“Parked it for BC,”; less than a week after the death of former Chip Ganassi Racing development driver Bryan Clauson, Justin Marks scored his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win for Ganassi in a hectic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course road race.
The race began in dry conditions with Sam Hornish, Jr. leading the way, but the dry didn’t last long as a caution for rain came out on lap two. Teams switched to rain tires instantly, and the switch from the dry conditions to wet conditions made for some wild racing.
Justin Marks dominated the opening stints of the race in the No. 42 Katerra Chevrolet. Marks splits time in the No. 42 with Kyle Larson, who coincidentally won his only race this season in another rain affected race at Pocono Raceway.
Shortly after the midway part of the race, the rain stopped and the track began to dry up. As the weather shifted, veteran road racer Andy Lally took control of the race on slick tires. Lally switched over to slicks before the rest of the field, and opened up a 25-second advantage over everyone else. Lally would soon pit and surrender the lead to Ty Dillon.
However, the dry conditions didn’t last as the skies opened up again late in the race, and drivers switched back to rain tires. Marks, who prevailed early in the race in the wet, would once again. He outlasted the rest of the field, and led 43 of 75 laps en route to his first career win.
Marks, who became a father for the second time last week, was visibly emotional in the makeshift victory lane.
“My specialty is road racing in the rain in these stock cars, and I don’t get much of an opportunity to do it, so when the opportunity presents itself, you have to really take advantage of it,” Marks said. “I knew if the race ended in the rain that we’d have a real shot at winning it. I wish my family was here. I’m just really happy.
“It means the world,” Marks said. “I’m not a big-time race car driver. I’ve had a big career with a lot of rides and stuff. It just means a lot to get an opportunity with Chip Ganassi Racing. To get a win, I just wish my family was here.”
Sam Hornish, Jr. drove the No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing to a second-place finish. The Ohio native started on pole in his homestate, and led some laps at the beginning of the race, but several off-track incidents moved him down the running order early on. Hornish was able to fight his way back for a runner-up finish.
Ryan Blaney, the lone Sprint Cup driver in the field, finished third followed by Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.
Despite being caught up in a wreck halfway through the event, Erik Jones wound up finishing sixth. Andy Lally finished seventh with Brendan Gaughan, Elliott Sadler and Brennan Poole rounding out the top-10.
The unpredictable weather conditions put a number of drivers and cars up to the front who normally don’t run there. Israeli driver Alon Day finished 13th in his series debut driving for Carl Long Motorsports. Day is a member of this year’s NASCAR Next group, and is a regular competitor in Whelen Euro division. Though he only finished 13th, Day ran inside the top-five for most of the race.
Ryan Preece also found himself inside the top-10 throughout most of the race, but late-race incidents had him finish back in 17th.
The XFINITY Series drivers will get a break from the twists and turns of road course racing as they head to Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend, but they’ll be back at it again the following weekend at Road America.