“They Wanna Come In and Disrupt Things”: Dale Earnhardt Jr Reveals the Justin Marks-Effect on NASCAR as Project 91 Turns Out to Be a Massive Success

Published 07/06/2023, 11:31 AM EDT

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It is the perfect time to call Trackhouse Racing a success story in NASCAR. With just two and a half years on the tracks of NASCAR, the ingenious Justin Marks is rewriting ownership stories. It is undeniable that NASCAR has always welcomed and nurtured unconventional talent. The young team owner has used these notions to his advantage and brought significant changes in the world of stock car racing.

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NASCAR has been trying to broaden its outreach for some time now. Marks, for one, has done his part. He flew to Switzerland to schedule the former Formula 1 driver, Kimi Raikkonen, to take a seat in NASCAR as a part of Project 91. He carried the same attitude forward and roped in Shane Van Gisbergen as a road course ringer for the Chicago Street Circuit. Now, with Project 91 tasting success, this foresight is worthy of applause and Dale Earnhardt Jr attests to the fact.

Justin Marks’s Project 91 success wins adulation from Dale Earnhardt Jr

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It has been just over a month since Trackhouse Racing was making the headlines for the on-track antics of their driver, Ross Chastain. But the team and the driver turned things around as Chastain won the first pole for the team in Nashville, backing it up with his first victory of the season. And the team continued with its winning streak in the inaugural race as their Project 91 paid off with Shane Van Gisbergen taking the victory.

Within a short period of time, the team, which is still in its nascent stage, has asserted a stronghold in NASCAR. Even the Hall of Famer Dale Jr seems to be proud of Justin Marks and his unique outlook toward the sport. In the latest episode of The Dale Jr. Download podcast, Junior affirmed, “I just want to tip the cap to Justin Marks. I don’t know how he does it, but this guy has bought a lot of new innovations and thinking in the entire sport.”

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Addressing his co-host Mike Davis, Dale Earnhardt Jr exclaimed, “They said they [Marks and Co.] wanna come in and disrupt things, but he does that in a positive way. He shakes things up and it sort of changes the culture and the mentality and the approach to being an owner and what an owner is and what an owner can do. And the Project 91 deal has paid off.

“That Project 91 program that he developed, everybody thought that it is cordial. That’s needed; we are gonna see some unusual names on the car come to the track, compete with us, and [it] finally paid off and accomplished his intentions. By disrupting one of the biggest moments in our year, this was a massive moment for NASCAR. And his car was out there with an international driver winning the race, so…”

Watch this Story: Denny Hamlin Doesn’t Think Ross Chastain Has Changed Despite His Brutal Response To Rick Hendrick

Trackhouse Racing rewriting success story in NASCAR

Justin Marks, who is himself a road course specialist, had started out the team in partnership with Pitbull by buying the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Cup team. The team found success in their second year with Chastain taking the checkered at the Circuit of The Americas last year. This was followed by one more win each by Chastain and Daniel Suarez, with the former coming 2nd in 2022 standings. The success story has continued this year. 

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Continuing along the same lines, even Mike Davis expressed how Marks and his team took advantage of other drivers’ unfamiliarity with the street course setup. He added, “He mentioned how the equal playing field and how a perfect setup for a V8 Supercar driver to come in because of the equal playing field and the first time they have been on a road course.”

And with the unprecedented victory of Project 91, the team owner was over the moon. He expressed to NASCAR, For us to be in Victory Lane with Project 91, it’s hard to find the words. It’s incredibly, incredibly humbling.”

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This humbling experience is a testament to what success looks like if one has proper foresight and the thirst to achieve more. With now two victories in the season, the team is ready to cross bigger hurdles and make Trackhouse a metaphor for success.

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Written by:

Ayantika Maitra

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Ayantika Maitra is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. It was initially Formula 1 that made her fall in love with the world of motorsports. But quickly, the raw and unfiltered nature of NASCAR is what led her to build an affinity for the Stock Car Racing Series.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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