For casual viewers of Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the name Justin Marks may have been unfamiliar. Heck, even regular NASCAR viewers still may not have known for sure who he was.
If they stuck around for the end, though, they certainly won’t forget.
Marks has 64 career starts across NASCAR’s three national series, including 25 in the XFINITY Series, but had never managed to make it to Victory Lane. In fact, the 43 laps he led Saturday at Mid-Ohio were the only 43 laps he ever led in the XFINITY Series, making up all but one of his total career laps led in NASCAR.
Marks has quite a bit of experience in road racing across multiple divisions, but considers himself to be more than just a road racing specialist. More specifically, Marks considers his strength to be racing in the rain.
It’s no surprise, then, that the 35-year-old drove his way to the front in Saturday’s soaking wet race. Marks started 16th but worked his way up through the field as the rain came down and soaked the track, even if he like many other drivers found himself sliding off the track on more than one occasion.
Through eight cautions for 32 laps, Marks was able to work his way to the front and led the final 10 laps of the race through a steady downpour, with a margin of victory of 3.707 seconds over second-place finisher Sam Hornish, Jr.
Marks may have been one of only a handful of drivers who was hoping to see the rain continue.
“Stock car racing in the rain is just sort of my thing,” Marks said during his post-race media availability. “I just don’t have a lot of opportunities in my career and my life to be able to do it. Today was just a perfect day for me to just do what I’m good at I think. The pitstops were awesome, this car was set up great. What can I say? To win a NASCAR race is truly a dream come true.”
Marks further went on to explain the reason he has been able to develop skills so conducive to wet racing conditions.
“Before I came stock car racing, I rode raced for eight years and I raced for Porsche, I raced for BMW, in the World Challenge Series, and IMSA and all that, ” Marks said. “So we did a lot of rain racing. I have a lot of races under my belt in the rain and there’s a very unique style to racing in the rain. I have more experience probably than anybody in the field except for maybe Andy Lally at racing in the rain.
“I can find that limit quickly and just find the grip more quickly than I think everybody else. It’s a very unique skill set, a specialty to be able to go fast in the rain. It’s like the stars lined up perfectly for my experience today. It’s just laps in the rain that I’ve had. I’m 35. I started racing in the rain when I was 17, so I’ve just got a lot of experience doing it.”
To cap it all off, Marks and his wife welcomed a new baby girl into the world last Friday.
After winning the race on Saturday, he then flew to Iowa for the Knoxville Nationals to watch driver Shane Stewart compete. Stewart finished third in a car co-owned by Marks and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson.
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