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CHEVY NCS AT WATKINS GLEN: Justin Marks & Ross Chastain Press Conf. Transcript

NASCAR CUP SERIES
GO BOWLING AT THE GLEN
WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 3, 2021

JUSTIN MARKS, FOUNDER OF TRACKHOUSE RACING AND ROSS CHASTAIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 1 TRACKHOUSE RACING CHEVROLET CAMARO IN 2022 – Teleconference transcript highlights:

NOTE: Ahead of Watkins Glen this weekend, Trackhouse Racing announced today that Ross Chastain will drive the organization’s second NASCAR Cup Series entry starting in 2022 and revealed his car will be the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro.
Chastain will join the No. 99 Chevrolet Camaro driver, Daniel Suárez, when the first year Trackhouse organization expands into a two-car team in 2022.

OPENING REMARKS:

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW RIDE WITH TRACKHOUSE RACING. WALK US THROUGH YOUR EMOTIONS AND EXCITEMENT AS YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THE 2022 SEASON WITH YOUR NEW TEAM

ROSS CHASTAIN:
“The excitement is always the name of the day with an announcement like this. But it’s more than just excitement for another team. I’ve been now crazy enough, in this sport for 10 years and didn’t know what I was getting into 10 years ago, but what’s so crazy is that the first race I ever ran, I bought a seat and drove the next race after Justin had raced the same truck, the No. 66 truck for Stacy Compton. I had no idea how full circle this all could come. And it’s more than just another team. I’ve been in it a lot now. I’ve been fired and I’ve left teams and I’ve done a lot of things and I could do a lot of things better, but to bring it full circle with somebody I’ve known my entire time in this sport, and do it with this group, and I mean this when I say it truly feels like it’s more than just another team. And I think that’s what made this process of getting me in this car so much easier for both sides.”

JUSTIN MARKS:
‘Well, first of all, happy Watermelon Day, everyone (laughter). This is another great moment in the short history so far at Trackhouse Racing. As Ross mentioned, I’ve known him for a long time. When he first came on the scene, knocking on our front door with a couple $20 bills to buy a used race seat from me and for us both, not just him but for us both to be at this point right now, with the way our career trajectories have gone since then, some 10 years ago, is pretty amazing. Trackhouse, we’re trying to build something really special for the future and that means really recognizing talent that is an important point in the career, where they’ve got experience, but they’re young and they’re still building their career and that’s what we feel like we have with Daniel (Suarez) and now with Ross. Ross has a number of Cup starts under his belt. Just like Daniel, Ross is one of those guys where when he’s been sitting in race-winning equipment, he’s gotten the job done. And that’s the talent and the skill that is independent of just how fast you can go. There are a lot of guys who have sat in real fast stuff and not figured out how to close. We’ve got two winners on this race team now, two closers on this race team; I’ve got a lot of respect for Ross. He’s important to Chevrolet. It’s a great day. It was a great choice for our company. We’ve got somebody that can be a part of this company for a long time. I’m excited to offer Ross what I think is probably his first multi-year contract in his NASCAR career and it’s a way for us to show that we’re committed to him. We’re building this team around him, and I’m excited for the future.”

Q&A’S:

WHEN THIS STARTED, WHAT WERE THE INITIAL CONVERSATIONS LIKE AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?

ROSS CHASTAIN:
‘From my side, when the acquisition happened, I told Justin, I just texted him, and said I want this. It was just simple. I didn’t ask anybody. I didn’t confer with anybody. I knew Justin on that level, and I wanted it. From there, there were a lot of moving pieces and that’s the business side that I’m not involved in. But this is a big organization now. This is a large part of Chevrolet. And so, working through a lot of that stuff and my tenure now with Chevrolet is really from my career and changing the trajectory that it was on. It’s gone a lot of different ways over the years, and I am very blessed to find a home with Chevrolet. So that was important to me. And the relationships that I have there, both internally here in this race shop, but also across the broader Bowtie family where I’ve driven for is where I’ve made the most relationships. It took a little bit of working through the process, but I know for myself, and I think I speak for Justin, that we wanted it and whether or not it all worked out, we had to work through all the other stuff. But fundamentally, down at the core of it, I knew that this was where I wanted to be.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE IN ROSS AS A DRIVER?

JUSTIN MARKS:
“Well, he’s got a lot of fight and a lot of want in him. And I tell people this. When there’s a nuance when you’re looking at drivers and you’re trying to determine what skill sets they’ve got and what kind of potential they have. To me, I’m a huge fan of people that have had to work hard against adversity and against odds to try to get there they have gotten in their careers. And I think it’s that fight in those years of working hard toward something when it’s very difficult along the way, that pays dividends at the Cup level, especially late in races when you’re sitting in good equipment. Sometimes you see these guys that on a green-white-checkered and they have to top the field for their first win, which is one of the most difficult things to do in all of racing. But it’s more than just those two laps. That driver has to dig down into everything he’s fought for in that moment to deliver. And Ross has that personality profile. He’s delivered, like I said earlier. You want somebody who knows how to win. And winning is a talent that’s independent of how fast you can go over a couple of laps, how well you can quality, what your feedback is like. There’s a talent to winning. And it’s so hard to win in the Cup Series. Now, in this playoff-era, you want guys that you know if you build a company around them, put cars underneath them, and people behind him that give them the opportunity to win, that they’re going to go and do that job. Ross and Daniel have both proven that when they’ve been in those situations, they can deliver. The rest we can build around them.”

AFTER YOU FIRST TALKED TO JUSTIN AND FELT PRETTY GOOD, HAVE YOU HAD GOOD FEELINGS EVERY DAY SINCE THEN OR WAS IT A ROLLER COASTER RIDE UNTIL SIGNING THIS DEAL?

ROSS CHASTAIN:
“It’s good when you get done, and especially the excitement, but to be honest it was him stepping out of the truck and he was great. And he gave me advice. And he talked like we talked because he was the most relevant thing I had to talk to; somebody within that same race team. So, no matter what the conversation is over the years, he’s been harsh with me about crashing and overdriving and road courses and breaking transmissions and cooking my brakes and like, I never left those feeling degraded or beaten down. I was like okay, I have a new mentality on this and a new thought process. It was the same way with this. There were no bad days. I felt good about it all along. I probably was a little naïve to maybe all the inner workings of what goes into this because this is so over my head. I truly just focus on race cars, and I know when it’s National Watermelon Day and its Watermelon Day every day in my life. So yeah, it was good times and good talks.”

WHY THE NO. 1 CAR? DID YOU CONSIDER THE NO. 42? AND WHERE ARE YOU AT THIS POINT AS FAR AS THE CREW CHIEF AND CREW FOR ROSS FOR NEXT YEAR?

JUSTIN MARKS:
“It’s a good question. In some ways it’s really important because that’s what people talk about. But in some ways, you’re also focused on things that make race cars go fast, too. But for us, it’s always been important since day one at Trackhouse to build a real racing brand that’s bigger than any one person or any one person’s history with the manufacturer and the number or anything like that. Ross and I have both won in the No. 42. That’s not lost on me. The No. 42 has a great lineage in this sport. But we just really loved the idea of having the No. 99 and the No. 1, of having the highest number and the lowest number and the opportunities to brand a company around that and the uniqueness of that. And so that was exciting for us. I’ve always loved the No. 1. It’s got a history and we can start a new era with that number and put the Trackhouse brand behind it and Ross can grow with it, so that really kind of was a business decision.

“As far as other people, we’re working through that process right now. It’s hard to do all these things at once. You have to really kind of plan out your cadence and how on-board certain elements of the company and how you build the company and that’s a methodical thing that happens over time. For us right now, the most important thing was getting Ross committed to Trackhouse and Trackhouse committed to Ross and going through the process where we can build a future together. Now that’s over with, we’ll start building that team around Ross. But I will tell you, that No. 42 team is running well right now. And the last thing I want to do it try to break up any kind of momentum or break up a good thing, but that’s a process we have to go through over the next couple of months while being as little a distraction as possible to that No. 42 team because they’re in a position here to get into the Playoffs. That’s where our will remain over the next couple of weeks.”

WHERE IS YOUR ORGANIZATION RIGHT NOW AS FAR AS PREPARATION FOR THE NEXT GEN CAR NEXT YEAR?

JUSTIN MARKS:
“I’m happy with where we are. I think our progress so far is consistent with most everybody else in the series. What’s nice with us is that with our relationship at RCR, they’ve been instrumental in the development of this Next Gen car. The car has been in the shop all year long. So, we’ve had an opportunity to for the Trackhouse group to familiarize ourselves with how that car is built. There are times when I’m in the shop and Travis and I just look at the car and try to think about ways that we have to do quick repairs at the race track and how we’re going to change an engine and how we’re going to prepare the thing for a swing of West Coast races and all that. I like where we’re at because we’re constantly thinking about it. As far as the delivery of parts and pieces, we’re just at about the same level as everybody else. What’s nice is obviously we’re going to be able to have a car ready with Daniel to test in October for the first organizational test, and then we’re going to have a car to be able to test with Ross. So, we’re in a really great spot between CGR and Trackhouse Racing to get a lot of development in the off-season done and get to Daytona ready to go. I’m happy with it. We made a commitment from day one that as soon as those ordering banks opened, we started putting in orders for parts and every because we didn’t want to be behind anybody else in this sport. I’m happy with where we’re at.”

YOU MENTIONED THIS IS A MULTI-YEAR DEAL WITH ROSS, SO HE’S IN THE CAR FOR 2023?

JUSTIN MARKS:
“He is. Yeah. That was one of the things that I was really happy to do, with and for Ross because as I mentioned at the top of the call, Ross has not been in a position where he’s had a ton of job security in his life, or he’s had a team come to him and say you’re a big part of our future and we want to build around you. Ross has got 15 years of competitive Cup racing ahead of him in his career and we want to be the ones to step up and tell him and this is what I told him on the phone when I called him and said this ride is yours if you want it and the fact that, we are building this team around you. And that means orchestrating our work force around Ross, supporting him, and giving him all the tools that he needs to be successful in the Cup Series and win races and to put these Trackhouse cars in the Playoffs. And I think having some job security and being able to put a contract in front of him that’s a multi-year contract is going to let him exhale a little bit after fighting for his life for 10 years and say this is my home and I’m ready to get to work. And that was an important part for Trackhouse.”

WHAT DOES THIS MULTI-YEAR DEAL FEEL LIKE FOR YOU?

ROSS CHASTAIN:
“It’s indescribable. It is a relief. But it’s really been since we knew this was going to happen, a pretty short time ago, maybe it changes now that it’s public and everybody knows, but it’s really been like okay now it’s like taking a breath. But I can’t change how I do things. This is what got me here. I just don’t have to go take everything I don’t have to take in. So that’s what I’ve been trying to work on this year is just a different mentality on my race craft and what goes through my head, both pre-race and also, during the race. When Justin said that when we were talking, it’s indescribable, what that means. I really have even struggled to tell Justin what it means to me that he would not only say that but to truly put it down and put it on paper.”

HAVE YOU HAD CONVERSATIONS WITH CHIP GANASSI RACING AND THEIR CURRENT SPONSOR LINE-UP AND POTENTIALLY MAKING THE TRANSITION OVER TO YOU GUYS NEXT YEAR?

JUSTIN MARKS:
“Yeah, there has been some great dialogue. That was an important element of the acquisition, obviously to just try to make sure we get an audience with all those partners and tell them our story and what we’re trying to build and the assets that we have to contribute to the marketing platform. And we’ve had a lot of great conversations. I think you’re going to see some of those companies stay. We’ve also got some great companies that we’re still working on the 99-yard line now with right that are going to join our organization that haven’t been involved in the sport yet that have been paying attention to Ross and have seen the CGR acquisition and everything. So, I think we’re in a great spot. There are a lot of great partners at CGR and there are a lot of partners that are big fans of Ross. We’re going through that process right now and I’m pretty confident. I don’t think we’re going to have one unsold race next year. I feel confident on that. It’s just a matter of telling a great story and getting great people and just doing the work. So, I like where we’re at.”

THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSION LATELY ON ATHLETES AND MENTAL HEALTH. HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE UPS AND DOWNS?

ROSS CHASTAIN:
“Yes, you definitely have not seen all the low points. And that’s not something I think, as people, we could ever knowingly go and share. But my biggest thing that has helped me is surrounding myself with people that I can truly talk to. And I truly believe that they have my best interests at heart. And that starts with my family and my dad and my mom, and I’ve got uncles and aunts and cousins that I talk to weekly, if not daily. And they don’t know anything about racing. But we compare to the farm and how we handle stuff there. And then in the racing, that’s where it gets scary because it’s so hard to truly trust anybody in this sport. And I mean that. And I know that people struggle to trust me. But I have a group that I can trust. When that clicked and I realized that I can all these couple of people anytime and truly tell them what’s going on and not have to worry. Now, in social media, you just don’t know, and you just don’t know how something can spiral. Truly knowing that they’re going to do what’s best for me and help talk me through that, even as simple as taking about this opportunity with Justin and Trackhouse and truly looking at it from all sides and knowing that we want the best for my career. And yes, I think that’s the biggest thing for me is truly having those people in the sport as well as the people in Florida and the watermelon industry, but truly having the people that are working in this sport day in and day out on other projects. They’re not just at CGR or Trackhouse or Spire, like they’re doing a lot of things; but truly having those couple of guys and girls that I can just call any time of day or night and just lay it out there. I think talking about it would help a lot of people if they just had that outlet to talk about it. It’s just a phone call. It’s just a text. It’s going to dinner or having dinner at their house where it’s private, and talking about the true, dirty details about whatever is going on and figure it out. I don’t wish those bad or uneasy feelings on anybody, but you have to have that person or those people that you can call or talk to and truly trust and just lay it out there and be honest and open because you cannot handle it all your own. And I figured that out, fortunately, before it was too late.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.

About Chevrolet
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, available in 79 countries with more than 3.2 million cars and trucks sold in 2020. Chevrolet models include electric and fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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