A busy Daytona Speedweeks awaits part-time NASCAR driver Justin Marks.
He will look to make his first Daytona 500 start in the No. 29 RAB Racing Toyota Camry, which is supported by American Born Moonshine.
He will also race the No. 35 Win-Tron Racing Toyota Tundra in the Camping World Truck Series season opener on Feb. 20 and another No. 29 RAB Toyota in the Xfinity Series season opener that takes place the next day.
On Twitter, Marks was enthusiastic over the opportunity:
I get to chase a dream this year @DISupdates I've had since a child. Attempting the Daytona 500 will be life-changing.
“We built RAB Racing around Justin in 2007 in the ARCA Racing Series,” team owner Robby Benton said in a statement. “He’s remained a good friend as he progressed through his racing career and I’m proud to have him back in our cars for Daytona.”
A former Rolex 24 at Daytona winner in the GT category, Marks made one career Cup start at Sonoma Raceway in 2013. He made two road course appearances last year in the Xfinity Series at Road America (24th) and Mid-Ohio (sixth). He also has 35 career Truck Series starts.
While Marks is not a regular NASCAR competitor, he is heavily invested in the sport. He co-owns a five-car team in the K&N Pro Series East with Cup owner Harry Scott Jr. (HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks), and a sprint car team with reigning Cup rookie of the year Kyle Larson (Larson Marks Racing).
Bowman also had the best 10-lap average at 175.317 mph.
Kurt Busch recorded the most laps with 47.
The only incident in the session was defending race winner Kyle Busch brushing the wall in Turn 3 after his car got away from him on the bumps in the corner. Repairs were made to the car and Busch returned to the track with 17 minutes left in the session.
Busch addressed Elliott and Larson entering the bounty ring Friday during his media session at Auto Club Speedway.
“It’s all good,” Busch said. “I think it’s going to be interesting, exciting, whatever you want to term it. I guess Cup drivers in the truck series do sell tickets. You know, take that for what it’s worth. I think it’s a unique opportunity for more attention on the series, which is good. Maybe if more drivers had more teams than had rides, there would be something else there besides just myself.”
“It’s brought a whole new chatter to (the truck series,” Busch said. “Whether that’s excitement or just chatter, I’m not sure which. I think we’ll see when we get to Atlanta what the grandstands look like and how the race goes.”
Even before the announcement by the drivers Thursday night, Busch had already given thought to the Cup competitors he could potentially square off against for the bounty and who his biggest threat was.
“I don’t remember who I told, but once Harvick kind of put the idea out there, I was like, ‘The guy who is really, really, really, gonna have a shot is Larson at Homestead,” Busch said.
The 1.5-mile track in Florida is widely viewed as Larson’s best track. He’s made three starts there in the truck series. He has two top fives, including placing fourth there in 2016 with GMS Racing.
But the first stop in the bounty challenge is Chase Elliott and his home track of Atlanta.
Harrison Burton, who raced for Busch last year in the truck series, shared his experience competing against Busch at Atlanta last year, a race Busch won.
“It’s going to be hard to beat Kyle, I know that much,” Burton said Friday. “I ran trucks last year and ran second to him for a lot of laps at Atlanta especially. I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m about a tenth better than the field and he’s about three-tenths better than me so this is pretty impressive.’ Ran second most of that day. Didn’t finish second, but Chase is going to have his work cut out for him there and (Kyle) Larson is going to have his work cut out for him at Miami. Kyle hasn’t raced Miami in a truck in a long time because of the playoff schedule so that might be — Chase has a steeper hill to climb than Larson.”
Atlanta and its owner, Speedway Motorsports, also are getting involved in the show.
SMI and the track announced Friday a way for fans to contribute $5 to the charities of Elliott, Busch or Harvick through ticket purchases.
Fans who purchase a ticket to the March 14 NASCAR doubleheader – which includes the truck series race (1:30 p.m. on FS1) and a Xfinity Series race (4:00 p.m. on FS1) – can choose the driver and driver foundations that will benefit.
If additional challengers emerge, the drivers and their respective charities will also become eligible.
Fans can ensure their ticket purchase helps the driver charity of their choice by purchasing through the AMS ticket office (877-9-AMS-TIX) and stating the driver and foundation of choice or by going to https://www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/bounty/ and choosing their preferred driver. Tickets for the Saturday NASCAR Doubleheader – which includes the Georgia 200 bounty challenge race – are free for children 12 and under.
“The anticipation for this race and the buzz around this bounty is growing every day,” said SMI CEO Marcus Smith in a press release. “Where the drivers saw a chance to inject more fun and excitement into this race, we see a chance to step it up even more and help some people in need through some very worthy driver charities.”