“This Is It” – To Save Ross Chastain’s 10% Chance, Justin Marks Has Bad News for SVG & Project 91 Fans

Published 07/05/2023, 12:28 PM EDT

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Shane Van Gisbergen achieved a remarkable feat by winning the Chicago Street Race, creating history in the process. He became the eleventh driver to secure their first-ever victory in the Cup Series. What makes his achievement even more unique is that it was also his very first race in any of NASCAR’s three national series. He received this opportunity through Trackhouse Racing‘s Project 91.

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Earlier this year, Kimi Räikkönen drove a race under Project 91 at COTA. However, he had driven a couple of races for the team with the project, but the team decided to bring in someone new to the project and called SVG.

Being done with the Chicago race, surprisingly, Justin Marks and his team has decided to put the project on hold for this year. The announcement has caused a wave of disappointment and sadness among the devoted fans of Project 91. Before delving deeper, let’s first take a look at the real idea behind Justin Marks’s project.

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What Is Project 91 Exactly?

Last year, team owner Justin Marks made his appearance on Dale Jr Download and explained his project. Justin believed old NASCAR cars were tough to drive for any other international driver who want to take part in the stock cars. He believes with the Next-Gen cars, it had become a little easier for drivers from other forms of motorsports to drive these machines.

“Now that the window is open for us to really attract world-class notoriety globally relevant talent to the sport and be able to put a good effort where they feel like they can compete.” Justin Marks told on Dale Jr Download. “But NASCAR is like, the rest of the world looks at NASCAR like we look at V8 eight supercars. We look at some of these competitions parts and will be like, ‘Oh, that’s really cool. That’s unique. That’s different…’”

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He continued, “NASCAR is this quintessential American thing, on these ovals, doesn’t exist anywhere else. So that moves the needle for people like, Daniel Ricciardo and some of these guys like they want to come to do this thing. They want to, they want to try it but with the old cars, this was too difficult. So Project 91 is about building a division in the company that is set up to be the landing spot in NASCAR, for people of that stature that want to come try it.”

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However, after COTA and Chicago Street race, Justin Marks announced there will not be any Project 91 race this year.

Justin Marks Spills a Bean Behind Delaying the Next Project 91 Appearance

During the post-race interview, Justin Marks was asked about the next upcoming Project 91 race. He replied, “We don’t have any other Project91 races on the calendar right now. This is it.”

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The fans were deeply saddened by this decision. Justin Marks, however, addressed the hard work and dedication invested in the Project 91 car, which also impacts the team’s other two cars. This, in turn, may have implications for Chastain’s pursuit of the championship this year.

“Beyond probably 3 races [in a year], it starts to become a third team. It starts to really kind of drain — not drain, but take resources from the 1 [Ross Chastain] and the 99 [Daniel Suárez] car, which is what we’re really focused on at Trackhouse, getting both of those cars in the championship, being able to make a championship run,” the team owner said.

He further explained the reason behind not running the #91 can again this season. “The last thing I want to do is have Project91 be a drain on that or take anything away from that. So I think three is really sort of the limit for us. If we ever expand to a third full-time team it’s good that we’re going through this exercise right now with the 91 because we’re doing sort of three teams’ worth of work in the shop as we lead into the Project91 races.” Justin Marks concluded.

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As per NASCAR betting: 2023 Cup Series Championship odds, Ross Chastain has a 10% chance to win the 2023 title. Do you think putting Project 91 on hold would increase his chances?

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Written by:

Moinakhtar Akhunji

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Moinakhtar Akhunji is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. With a love for racing spanning almost a decade, he brings his passion and expertise to every article he writes. Growing up as an automobile enthusiast, he quickly developed a deep appreciation for the technical and competitive aspects of both F1 and NASCAR.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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