As soon as Justin Marks made his first start with Chip Ganassi Racing this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there was no confusion about the challenges ahead.
Though Marks has 122 starts in NASCAR and ARCA – including two Sprint Cup Series starts at Sonoma – 2016 marks his his oval track comeback, breaking a five-year drought in all racing series.
“I raced ovals a bunch but it was a long time ago,” Marks said. “For me I’m relearning everything from the get-go. When you have really good racecars like we have, it makes that learning curve a little bit easier and quicker. It’s a lot of simulator time, a lot of just looking at notes and tape and trying to get as prepared as possible.”
Splitting seat time with Kyle Larson, the elder Marks understands the importance of having a stable, well-organized race team.
“It was great to put the deal together,” he said. “It’s great any time you can race for a company like Chip Ganassi Racing with all their resources and talent.”
Through a career-high nine starts thus far in 2016, Marks placed a best of 11th at Talladega before grabbing a 12th at the most recent event at Kentucky Speedway. Above the numbers, however, returning to some of his favorite racetracks has been his gold moments of 2016.
“Some of these tracks I love and I haven’t been to in a long time,” he said. “I feel we have some good races; we have some races I feel we can improve on. I’m looking forward to the road courses because that’s in my wheel house and what I came up doing.”
Standing as one of the series’ oldest and most all-around drivers, Marks has embraced his chance in a premier ride.
“I’m having fun where I’m at right now,” he said. “I’m 35 years old, I’ve done a couple Cup races and that was awesome. But really, I just want to race at the highest level I can where I can compete for wins. For me, that’s just continuing to work hard in this XFINITY Series and try to get better and better every week.”