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Justin Marks wins NASCAR Xfinity race at rainy Mid-Ohio

Justin Marks celebrates winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Saturday, Aug. 13, 2015 in Lexington, Ohio. (Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press)
Justin Marks celebrates winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Saturday, Aug. 13, 2015 in Lexington, Ohio. (Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press)
Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Justin Marks splashed through the rain at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday for his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.

The 35-year-old Marks pulled away on a restart with two laps left to go in the 75-lap race on the 2.085-mile, 13-turn road course, finishing 3.7 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Sam Hornish Jr.

“These are as tough conditions as you can put drivers in,” Marks said. “It’s just really hard on everybody when it’s dry and wet and you don’t really know what to do, so strategy plays a big role in it. My specialty is road racing in the rain in these stock cars and I don’t get much of an opportunity to do it, so when that opportunity presents itself, you have to really take advantage of it.”

Marks dedicated the victory to late Chip Ganassi driver Bryan Clauson, the 27-year-old dirt racer who died last Sunday night from injuries in a sprint car accident in Kansas. All of the cars had “BC” decals.

“Bryan’s short career in stock car racing came with Chip Ganassi Racing, so it’s great to be able to put this thing in Victory Lane to honor him and think about him,” Marks said. “He’s a real American hero race car driver, Bryan was. They don’t make them like that anymore.”

Marks started 16th in the second of the series’ three road-course races. He took the lead from Ty Dillon with 10 laps left, and had a big lead with four left to go when T.J. Bell went off the track and brought out the eighth and final caution.

With the rain falling harder, Marks cautiously negotiated the slippery final laps. He led 43 laps in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet.

“My hats off to Justin Marks,” Hornish said. “I generally hold myself as a pretty decent rain racer and even given the opportunity there at the end, I couldn’t do anything with him. I would have had to take massive chances with our car to be able to do anything and you still got to pass him to keep up with him. … Justin just went out there and was just a monster in the wet.”

Hornish was driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet. The three-time IndyCar season champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner is from Defiance, Ohio.

Ryan Blaney was third, followed by Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Eric Jones, Andy Lally, Brendan Gaughan, series points leader Elliott Sadler and Brennan Poole. Darrell Wallace Jr. had the lead off a restart with 14 laps left, then went off the track several times and ended up finishing 15th.

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