The Cup Series weekend at Watkins Glen International marks Trackhouse Racing’s Project91 debut. The special entry meant for drivers from other disciplines will feature Kimi Raikkonen first, but there will be several other contenders in 2023.
Team owner Justin Marks provided a few details before qualifying at Watkins Glen. He explained that Trackhouse Racing has not hired any new employees for Project91 and that the 2022 season is more of a test of the program. In fact, Raikkonen’s start will be the only starting entry this year. Then Marx provided some details about the future of Project91.
“With that being said – in the end, Project91 is a program that works across all road courses during the season and then it’s probably some key events, like the Daytona 500 or Coca-Cola 600 or something,” Marks explained. Copy from General Motors.
“I think at some point you’re going to get so many races that you just have to actually look at putting in a full-time third car. But I think for Project91 it’s a six to eight race program potentially next year. And beyond. It’s an extension of the Trackhouse brand. I think we can really stand out on the content side, on the merchandise side, and just create great stories. That’s kind of where I’d like to see it go.”
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The 2022 season presented a perfect opportunity
Marks has always been a proponent of bringing in stars from other racing series so they can test themselves on the NASCAR circuit. He even tweeted about the idea in 2018, three years before Trackhouse Racing made its Cup Series debut.
Marx did not make this idea a reality until 2022 for various reasons. First, he had to first grow his own trophy series team. Secondly, the 2022 season and the introduction of the next generation cars was the time to create this special entry.
“I definitely think it was possible,” Marks said of next-generation cars being better for guest drivers. “But I think what this car represents is less of a barrier to entry for drivers from other disciplines because this car is more consistent with other road racing cars globally. So the transition to learning the car for someone like Kimi is a lot simpler.”
Attention will now turn to the Crown Jewel Race
With Raikkonen set to start the only Project91 project in 2022, there will now be many questions about the future. Specifically, who will be the first driver to fit in with Trackhouse Racing in 2023, and will he do so in the Daytona 500?
Marks specifically referred to the Crown Jewel race as a possibility, creating some intrigue heading toward the season-opening race. The reason is that there is an ornate competitor out there who seeks to ride the big show.
Four-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves won the Camping World SRX Series over the summer. This win was part of a deal with chain CEO Don Hawke, which meant he would use his connections to find Castroneves a seat for the Daytona 500.
Trackhouse Racing and Project91 stand out as a logical destination for Castroneves to race the Crown Jewel. Marx also previously acknowledged that such a partnership could be possible.
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