by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer
Charlotte, NC – One of the new young owners in NASCAR Cup Series Don’t be afraid to make a noise, whether it’s with a famous co-owner or saying something in the media that might frustrate fellow owners or a NASCAR brass.
Another one of the new young owners in the NASCAR Cup series isn’t afraid to make a noise, whether it’s with a celebrity co-owner or doing something that surprises the garage due to its unpredictable nature.
Denny Hamlin23XI Racing, whose team 23XI Racing is co-owned by Michael Jordan, and Justin Marks, whose Trackhouse Racing team is co-owned by musician Pitbull, approach ownership in different ways. The only thing they have in common is great racing experience and a desire to see the sport grow.
Denny Hamlin wins the 2022 Coca-Cola 600
Denny Hamlin wins the longest race in NASCAR history at the end of runaway overtime in Charlotte on Sunday.
“Listen, I’m working hard to help promote change in the sport for the better,” Hamlin said. “I’m doing my part. I want to leave this sport in a better place than it was when I got here.
“I invested enough and [am] Enough information to give an opinion on some of the topics we talked about.
During racing week in Charlotte, both young owners found their way into the spotlight.
Marks did just that by announcing Project 91, a third Cup car for Team Trackhouse in which Marks will race one race this year and possibly six to eight races next year. The idea is to bring an internationally known driver to the Cup Series.
“A lot of teams focus a lot on just trying to win NASCAR Cup Series races and focus all their attention [on that] Marks said.
“But I got into this to do big, big things.”
With a next-generation car modeled after the sports cars and touring cars that many drivers have at least little experience with, Marks thinks the transition may be a little easier now than drivers who have experienced one-off events previously.
“Project 91 is more about international significance than where they belong…I would tour with anyone within reason,” Marks said. “But the thing is, Project 91 exists as an extension of the Trackhouse brand, it can put together programs that the world might be interested in seeing.”
Justin Marks in Trackhouse’s first win
In April, Justin Marks joined Caitlin Vinci, Andy Petrie and Bobby Labonte at the NASCAR Race Hub to discuss Team Trackhouse’s first win.
Former Formula 1 Champion Kimi Raikkonenwho retired after last year, will drive the number 91 in August at Watkins Glen.
While the announcement of the show last week seemed like it came out of nowhere, the idea has been alive for two years now.
“It’s been an idea shelved ever since I basically started Trackhouse,” Marks said. “It was just in a corner of my head.
“But the actual pursuit of Project 91 started about four or six races a season, when I felt things had stabilized somewhat so that I could bring up a new idea to everyone without overwhelming them.”
The key is to have drivers who push the needle internationally, which many drivers have called after last week. Raikkonen has little NASCAR experience, having run in Xfinity and truck racing in 2011.
It’s just a good way to grow our brand,” Marks said. “I want to build a great motorsports brand. That’s why this team will never be ‘Justin Marks Racing’ or have my name on it.
“There are a lot of opportunities to unite different corners of the motorsport world and to be the brand that is really involved at the international level.”
It was almost a year ago when Marks stunned the NASCAR world by announcing that he had purchased Chip Ganassi Racing valid at the end of the season.
This put more than 100 employees and team infrastructure in Marx’s hands. He spent Trackhouse’s first season with a handful of the integrated Richard Childress Racing employees.
Ganassi’s purchase of the Trackhouse allowed him to enter the track with the goal of winning races on a weekly basis. Ross Chastain Already won twice this year.
Wild finish: Ross Chastain avoids meltdown to win at Talladega
Ross Chastain passed Kyle Larson and Eric Jones in the final to win the Talladega.
Hamlin didn’t buy a team. He started from scratch in his first season in 2021 and then expanded to two cars for 2022 while also remaining a driver at Joe Gibbs Racing.
He also bought land for a shop but has not started construction yet. In a Sports Business Journal story published last week, Hamlin said he told NASCAR President Jim France that any additional investment was on hold until Hamlin trusted the business model.
Hamlin, like many owners, wants a larger portion of TV revenue (teams get 25% while tracks get 65% and NASCAR, which also owns the majority of tracks, gets 10%).
Whenever he can, Hamlin will use his media platform to advocate for change.
“The pizza is big enough,” Hamlin said of the proceeds of the sport. “But there are some stuffed, and there are some who are starving. They are all at the same table.”
Not everyone likes Hamlin’s style – or at least they won’t.
“I think we have to be careful not to fight this war in the media,” Marx said.
Marks and Hamlin recently had lunch with Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith, whose track portfolio includes 16 of 38 Cup events. Hamlin wanted the tracks, which are now private entities rather than publicly traded companies as they had been for the past quarter century, to be more open about their finances with teams.
“I feel like between me and Justin, we know what it takes to get into the sport,” Hamlin said. “We’ve just come here in the last couple of years, and we’ve seen what the model is, and we see the challenges it takes for teams to win in our sport so quickly, to achieve success, and how hard this work is. [is] to be stable for the long term.
“And we want to make it even better by collaborating with our TV partners, our in-ring partners and NASCAR. I think if we start working together, we’ll grow this into a big, big company.”
The sport has long seen car and track owners fight each other for sponsors as well as fight over wings and hospitality costs and sponsor activation.
“Anytime you can sit down at a table and be open and honest with each other, that’s productive,” Marks said. “I think we have to do more of that as a sport.
“There are a lot of closed-doors in conversations where we assume what the other side is thinking without just opening that door and really trying to figure it out.”
think out loud
Chris Bucher flips upside down, barrel rolls
Chase Briscoe managed Daniel Suarez, resulting in a massive wreck with Chris Bucher’s barrel rolling a few times.
Even winner Denny Hamlin said he can’t rate the race until he’s seen a replay.
This was a good night but not a great night for the next generation car. It produced exciting races (perhaps in part due to the many reboots).
NASCAR doesn’t need five-hour races, so hopefully the teams and Goodyear gain as they can get better load handling, and can be more stable.
Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 was the longest mileage race in Cup history with 619.5 miles. It was the third longest running 600 with five hours, 16 minutes and 16 seconds.
they said that
“It’s by no means perfect. I’d be a little sore.” – Chris Bucher after his heart
Bob Pokras has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 games of the Daytona 500. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after working for ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Popocras. Looking for more NASCAR content? Subscribe to the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!
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