Sunday, February 22, 2015

TRUCKS: Penalty Drops Justin Marks Into Middle of Daytona Truck Crash

Justin Marks picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at the Daytona International Speedway when his #35 American Born Moonshine / GoPro Motorplex Toyota was involved in a ten-truck accident that ended his run after 12 of the race’s 100 laps.  The finish came in Marks’ 36th series start.

Marks arrived at Daytona looking to compete in all three of track’s major opening events.  Unfortunately, his bid to make his first Daytona 500 field ended Thursday night when his #29 Toyota fielded by RAB Racing finished 18th in Duel Race #1, narrowly missing a transfer spot for what would have been his first Cup race since his series debut at Sonoma in 2013.  On Saturday, Marks and RAB started outside-pole for the XFINITY Series opener, only this time he was collected in a grinding 12-car pileup on Lap 94 that left him 34th.  This added to the frustrations of a difficult Friday night in Trucks.

For the Truck Series event, Marks picked up a ride with Win-Tron Racing, the Kevin Cywinski-owned team which fielded ARCA driver Mason Mingus for most of 2014.  With the 2015 Truck Series fields pared down from 36 starters to 32, many the 37 competitors on the entry list would all have to race their way in through qualifying.  Marks looked to be a safe bet - he timed in 16th in the opening practice session and 12th in Happy Hour - but he still managed only the 27th starting spot with an average speed of 183.505 mph.

Regardless, Marks was set to make his first Truck Series race since Atlanta in the fall of 2011, when he finished 28th in a one-off for ThorSport.  Mingus, his predecessor, was the fastest of the five drivers to miss the field.

NASCAR’s problematic new qualifying format left two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton in the 31st spot alongside Timothy Peters, who was sent to a backup truck after tangling with Norm Benning during the session.  By Lap 3, however, Marks had taken the spot, penalized for changing lanes at the start.  Marks returned to the track by himself, several seconds behind the field, and was lapped by Lap 9.

Just three laps later, Marks was running in a second slower pack of traffic when trouble broke out in front of him.  Austin Hill, making his 3rd series start, topped the charts in the opening practice session.  Hill’s #82 A&D Welding Ford was running among the leaders when the left-rear tire came apart, sending him spinning into traffic.  As he slowed with the rest of the field, Marks was rear-ended by the #1 Eagle Convenience Stores Chevrolet of Donnie Neuenberger, triggering a second wreck that took out both competitors.

Marks, Neuenberger, and Hill were joined in the Bottom Five by Justin Boston in the #54 BitPay Toyota.  Damaged in the first wreck, Boston’s steering broke on Lap 27, sending him into the inside wall off Turn 2.  Two laps behind him was another damaged truck, the #11 Local Motors Toyota of Ben Kennedy, who slowed unexpectedly entering Turn 3 on Lap 50.  When NASCAR failed to throw the caution in time, the leaders checked-up as they passed Kennedy’s truck, triggering a wreck that collected another 11 contenders.

*This is the first last-place finish for Win-Tron and its #35 since last fall at Las Vegas, six races ago, when Charles Lewandoski’s unsponsored Toyota had a vibration after 5 laps of the Rhino Linings 350.  The number had not finished last in the Daytona event since the crash-marred inaugural on February 18, 2000, when David Starr’s #35 Unified Office Network Chevrolet lost the engine after 10 laps of the Daytona 250.

32) #35-Justin Marks / 12 laps / crash
31) #1-Donnie Neuenberger / 13 laps / crash
30) #82-Justin Hill / 13 laps / crash
29) #54-Justin Boston / 18 laps / crash
28) #11-Ben Kennedy / 20 laps / crash

1st) Justin Marks (1)

1st) #35-Win-Tron Racing (1)

1st) Toyota (1)

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