Making his first start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in a half-decade, Justin Marks put his street course experience to use in practice for Saturday’s The Loop 121 on the Chicago Street Course.
Driving the No. 10 Jockey Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing, Marks led a surprisingly uneventful 50-minute practice session for the second-tier series, marking the first laps turned around the 2.2-mile street course on the streets of Chicago.
The 42-year-old driver posted a 92.138-second (85.958mph) lap in Saturday’s practice session, leading the session by 0.019 seconds over fellow Chevrolet driver Sheldon Creed, who clocked in second in the historic session.
At the final possible moment, Sam Mayer, driving the No. 1 for JR Motorsports, jumped to third-place in the session, marking a sweep of the top-three spots in practice for Chevrolet, albeit with three different organizations.
Sammy Smith and Austin Hill completed the top five on the speed charts, while Brett Moffitt, Chandler Smith, Parker Kligerman, John Hunter Nemechek, and Connor Mosack all placed inside the top-10.
The first on-track activity of the weekend began with some adversity for the drivers of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, after NASCAR declared the track wet minutes prior to practice, allowing teams to strap on some wet weather tires.
Even with a wet track, though, there were very few incidents in the session. Early on, Blaine Perkins ran into the run-off zone in the fourth corner, but in the aftermath, Josh Williams made some contact with Joey Gase.
In fact, there were more on-track incidents after the track had fully dried out and teams switched to slick tires.
John Hunter Nemechek looped his Yahoo Toyota GR Supra around and backed into the tire barriers. Miguel Paludo, a decorated road racer, also ran into trouble, spinning at the exit of the first corner. Neither driver sustained major damage, though.
Other notably strong runs inside the top-20 in Xfinity Series practice included Sage Karam in 11th, Kaz Grala 14th, Preston Pardus 16th, and Alex Labbe in 19th.
Next for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is group qualifying, where 43 drivers will fight to claim 38 spots in the inaugural The Loop 121 at the Chicago Street Course.
If practice speeds were to be used to set the field in Saturday’s event, the following drivers would fail to qualify for the event: Brennan Poole, Joey Gase, Kyle Weatherman, Dexter Stacey, and Dawson Cram.
Luckily for those drivers, they’ll have an opportunity to post a strong lap in qualifying, just a couple of minutes after the completion of practice.