Chip Ganassi admires the Trackhouse that Justin Marks has built

May 26, 2023

Consider Trackhouse like a young couple getting ready to start a family. Before they design their dreamhouse, they often have to start off in a smaller dwelling, even though their dreams are big.

When Trackhouse began in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, owners Justin Marks and Pitbull had big dreams, but realized it might take a while before they could move into their dream home.

It was a one-car NASCAR Cup Series team without a Charter featuring Daniel Suarez of Monterrey, Mexico as the driver. Trackhouse was the new team in the neighborhood, and it was obvious that the original house wasn’t big enough to hold the big dreams that were created inside.

So, Marks began to look for his dream house and he was impressed with the beautiful facility located near the Concord Airport off O’Dell School Road in Concord, North Carolina.

It was the home to Chip Ganassi Racing, a team owned by one of the most successful and multi-dimensional team owners in racing.

This was the NASCAR home for the team owner that has won the Indianapolis 500 five times and won 14 IndyCar National Championships including four in CART and 10 in the current NTT IndyCar Series. Ganassi also won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, a 24 Hours of Le Mans class win and over 200 wins in multiple categories. Chip Ganassi Racing also won five IMSA Sports Car championships.

Ganassi’s IndyCar and IMSA teams are based in Indianapolis, and the NASCAR team was located just a few miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Marks envisioned what it would be like to turn Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR shop into his own Trackhouse.

He made an offer that Ganassi couldn’t refuse at the end of June in 2021.

Ganassi accepted and by the end of the year, turned the keys over to the new owners.

Marks invited many of Ganassi’s employees to stay, including a young, aggressive, and eager driver from Alva, Florida named Ross Chastain.

Ganassi built the foundation, and Marks has built onto the structure to create a two-car operation featuring Suarez and Chastain at Trackhouse.

This weekend is the biggest day in motorsports with three of the world’s greatest races on the same day. It’s Memorial Day Sunday and begins with the famed Grand Prix of Monaco at 7 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by the 107th Indianapolis 500 at 12 noon ET and concluding with the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Ganassi has four drivers in this year’s Indy 500 including pole winner Alex Palou, the fastest pole winner in Indianapolis 500 history with a four-lap average at 234.217 miles per hour. Six-time IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon starts sixth after qualifying at 233.151 mph over four laps. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato of Tokyo starts in the middle of Row 3 with a four-lap average of 233.098 mph and defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Sweden starts 10th after his four-lap qualification run of 232.889 mph.

Trackhouse will attempt to win the Coca-Cola 600 with Chastain in the No. 1 Chevrolet and Suarez in the No. 99 Chevrolet.

Ganassi has watched Trackhouse’s progress from afar and is very impressed with what the team has done to the NASCAR Cup Series team that he once owned.

“Hey, those guys took what I did and grew upon it and good for them,” Ganassi said. “I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be happier for the guys. I’m happy for Justin and Ty Norris (Trackhouse president) obviously.

“But I’m happy for the guys on the team, too, because they’re getting this to bloom as they should.”

Marks and Ganassi have remained in contact with phone calls every few weeks. Ganassi is impressed that Marks thinks big and that is one reason for Trackhouse’s emergence.

“I said this when I sold the team to him, he reminds me of me when I met Felix Sabates,” Ganassi said. “He’s doing things that he’s breaking new ground. That’s what I did when I met Felix, and that’s what he is doing now.”

Ganassi also gave Chastain his big break in NASCAR Cup Series racing and Trackhouse has allowed the driver to blossom.

“Isn’t that a great story? Good for him,” Ganassi said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Ganassi was watching with great interest last October’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway when Chastain made one of the greatest moves in racing history to grab the last position in the Championship Four.

It was the famed “Hail Melon” – with Chastain rim-riding the Chevrolet at full bore around the third and fourth-turn walls to gain enough positions to take the final transfer position into the championship away from Denny Hamlin.

Like many, Ganassi could not believe what he had just seen.

“OK, all right. I only have one eye. A lot of you know that,” Ganassi said. “I only have one eye that works.

“When I saw that, I thought holy (bleep).

“Look, I’ve been to Martinsville more times than I care to think about. I’ve been there a bunch. At least 40.

“I saw that, and I literally thought my eyes were deceiving me. What am I looking at here?

“What am I looking at? Because I’m watching it and not paying attention and the race is about over, who’s in, who’s not. It’s the last race before the four, and it’s like … I saw it and thought to myself, ‘Did they just go back to some replay and speed it up or something?’

“I was literally confused for a second when I saw that. I put out a tweet immediately that it’s the greatest move since Alex Zanardi.”

Zanardi was a two-time CART Series champion famous for his bold and daring moves in the late 1990s.

Marks continues to admire what Ganassi created and hopes to create a team that will one day have the number of championships that will rival Ganassi.

He also knows that today’s Trackhouse is built on the solid foundation that was created by Ganassi.

“Chip and I talk every couple of months,” Marks said. “He congratulated me after every win. He is excited about passing what he has built to that next generation owner. He sees a lot of himself in me and can take a little bit of ownership in Trackhouse’s success, which he should.

“So much of the infrastructure and what Trackhouse is comes from Chip Ganassi Racing and what he spent 20 years building. It gave Trackhouse an opportunity to be successful right off the bat. We wouldn’t be able to be in this position without all his work he did over the last two decades.

“I have a lot of respect for him. We communicate regularly.

“It was the perfect way to pass the torch.”

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