Marlin Fights For 20th-Place Finish in Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 29, 2006)-- With only 16 laps remaining in Sunday's Nextel Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sterling Marlin was collected in a five-car accident, causing damage to the No. 14...
Marlin Fights For 20th-Place Finish in Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 29, 2006)-- With only 16 laps remaining in Sunday's Nextel Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sterling Marlin was collected in a five-car accident, causing damage to the No. 14 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet and sending the team to a 20th-place finish.
Marlin started the 325-lap, 500-mile event 35th after rain washed out Friday's qualifying session and the starting lineup was set by owners points.
Early in the race the veteran driver fought an extremely loose racecar and the team worked feverishly in the pits to tighten it up. But when the sun set over the 1.5-mile speedway, track conditions quickly changed and the No. 14 Chevy was too tight.
"We were terribly loose early in the race and couldn't get through the field," said Marlin. "We chased the race track all night and kept tightening it up and tightening it up. Then as soon as the sun set, things changed fast. We went from one extreme to the other. Once the sun went down we were fast, but by that time there were only 15 cars or so on the lead lap and it was hard to make up what we'd lost."
Though it was a slow process, Marlin was eventually able to start picking off positions and found himself running in the 16th spot when the Lap 309 incident took place.
"I'm not sure what happened," explained Marlin. "I think the 66 (Jeff Green) and 78 (Kenny Wallace) cars got together in front of the 43 (Bobby Labonte) and he checked up. I was right there on Labonte's back bumper, and when he hit the brakes I got into him. Then Mark (Martin) got into the back of me. It was just a chain reaction deal."
Marlin was able to pilot his Chevy down pit lane where the Ginn team quickly went to work on right-rear and front-end damage. Marlin returned to the track and was able to salvage a 20th-place finish.
"All things considered, 20th isn't bad," said Marlin. "The good thing is we started from the back of the field, got things figured out, and headed toward the front. Things are coming together for this team-- we're still not collecting the finishes we want or deserve, but the performance is improving each week and that's a step in the right direction."