Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Column: Trackhouse in Nashville as NASCAR’s Hottest Team

CHARLOTTE, NC ( Associated Press) — It was just a year ago when an agitated Justin Marks sat on the podium at Nashville Superspeedway. Two days earlier, he claimed he had been blindsided to learn that he had once again dropped out of the sale of two NASCAR charters.

He sat down with trackhouse racing partner Pitbull, who once the entertainer plugged his upcoming “I Don’t Know About You But I Feel Good” tour. The Grammy winner felt good: Nashville was discussing the long-awaited return of NASCAR and people were partying all over town—proof for Pitbull that he was in the midst of a post-pandemic renaissance.

That charter stuff with the NASCAR team? Pitbull doesn’t care. He lets Marx take over the business, while Pitbull Hip helps build energy around the new team.

Well, Marx figured it out. A year later, wow, does the trackhouse feel good.

The second year the team returned to their elusive home after Daniel Suarez’s first career win. Only the fifth Cup Series winner born outside the United States, the Mexican sent the trackhouse the only off-weekend on NASCAR’s 38-race schedule, with both Suárez and Ross Chastain already qualified for the playoffs.

Look, when Marx lost those charters last June – Spire Motorsports sold them to someone else – he was tired of playing the sport. And pulled off the purchase of his life. They bought the entirety of Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR operations last July. And landed itself as an organization with not one but two charters and two decades of experience.

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Trackhouse went from startup to real contender overnight.

The team’s emergence centered on two underdog drivers who made their way to NASCAR’s top series, then spent years looking for a team they believed could win races.

At the end of the 2020 season, Marx picked Suárez, his third with a different team in three years.

“I knew in 2020 that I had hit the bottom. In my mind, nothing could be worse,” Suarez said of one of his seasons, which lacked Gauntlet Brothers racing. “It was terrible at the racetrack But it made me who I am now, it made me tougher. I knew it couldn’t get worse. After that, the trackhouse came on the table.”

Marx saw potential and built the trackhouse around Suarez and Travis Mack, a crew chief who noted last week that he was Got fired during the NASCAR off-week four years ago. Now he was celebrating the holidays as a winner for the first time.

A lot has changed for a team in a single calendar year, and Suarez is expected to announce a contract extension before Sunday’s race.

Marks still hopes to become Nashville’s hometown NASCAR team; His initial plan was to operate the trackhouse from a tourist destination in the city. The purchase of a turnkey Ganassi operation by 2023 changed the plan.

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“That was the strategy when we were just shopping for a charter, then buying a charter became an acquisition of Chip Ganassi Racing, which changed from forming a company in Nashville to uprooting a company and relocating it to Nashville. which was no longer viable,” Marx said.

Location doesn’t matter what Marx and Pitbull are trying to build. The trackhouse sponsors race Sundays with Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge featuring Suarez’s No. 99 Chevrolet in a strong partnership between a renowned Nashville establishment and a growing sports and entertainment entity.

Meanwhile, the jockeys will debut Chastain’s car for the first of six races as the trackhouse continues to add marketing partners to its portfolio and seeks creative opportunities to showcase its team. The trackhouse will host a one-hour live pit stop in front of Tootsie’s on Thursday.

“Trackhouse is more than a racing team,” Marks explained. “This is a brand that we are trying to inspire, we are trying to activate at the intersection point between entertainment and motorsports. Having a brick-and-mortar presence in Nashville is still very much in the business development strategy. It’s just a matter of figuring out what that looks like as we advance our goals as a race team.

“Nashville is very important to us. I think we’ve got some momentum going there and doing something special.”

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More Associated Press Auto Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Nation World News Desk
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