Marlin Captures Second Top Five Finish of 2004 at Bristol Motor Speedway BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 28, 2004) --- Sterling Marlin and the Coors Light crew used pit strategy to earn their second top-five finish in six races at Bristol Motor...
Marlin Captures Second Top Five Finish of 2004 at Bristol Motor Speedway
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 28, 2004) --- Sterling Marlin and the Coors Light crew used pit strategy to earn their second top-five finish in six races at Bristol Motor Speedway. The strategy during the pit stop on lap 202 also allowed Marlin to lead 67 laps and run in the top 10 the reminder of the 500 lap race.
"We had a heck of a car today," Marlin said. "It was just a little bit too loose all day. The pit crew had some good stops, and they made the right calls in the pits and here we are. We didn't lose anything on that two-tire stop if anything we gained position from it. It was pretty good after that. We just needed track position, and we just had about 30 laps on the tires. We decided to gamble and see what we could get. Harvick got us there at the end. He had fresher tires on. All-in-all it was a good day for us and it got us back where we need to be (tenth in points)."
Marlin started the Food City 500 in the 17th position and had gained five spots by lap 59 when the caution flag waved for the first caution of the day. Marlin reported that the car was "pretty loose getting into one and loose in the center." The Coors Light crew made a four tire, fuel and minor adjustment pit stop and returned the car to the track in the 12th spot.
The second caution came out just eight laps later and Marlin kept the Coors Light Dodge out on the track. Marlin climbed one position by lap 101 when another caution flag waved. He reported that the last pit stop changes had helped and no adjustments were needed. The Coors Light crew made a quick four tire and fuel pit stop but due to the position of their pit stall on the backstretch, they lost a spot when Marlin returned to the race track.
Marlin broke into the top 10 on lap 132 and was able to gain two more spots in the pits when the caution came out on lap 168. The Coors Light Dodge had started to get loose again so the crew made a four tire, fuel, trackbar and air pressure adjustment stop and returned to the track in the eighth position.
Pit strategy came into play during the caution on lap 201. Crew chief Lee McCall decided to do a two tire stop in order to gain track position. So the Coors Light crew put two fresh tires on the right side and Marlin restarted out front on lap 210. Marlin continued to run their for the next 67 laps continuously fending off the 2 car of Rusty Wallace.
Wallace was able to pass Marlin on lap 277 and Dale Earnhardt Jr slipped by as well to set up the 87 lap "battle of the beers" as all three of the top spots were occupied by the beer sponsored race cars.
Marlin made a green-flag pit stop on lap 364 for four fresh tires and fuel and came out 12th but once all the cars had come down pit road the Coors Light Dodge was seventh. Marlin continued to slice through the field and was fourth when the sixth caution came out for an accident. McCall made the decision to stay out on the track to gain positions and Marlin moved up to second behind Kurt Busch.
There would be five more cautions in the last 120 laps of the Food City 500 but Marlin continued to keep track position and never came back down pit road. The Coors Light Dodge swapped positions several times during those last laps but never dropped out of the top-five and eventually finished in the fourth position.
Marlin's second fourth-place finish of the season jumped him six spots to tenth in the NEXTEL Cup championship points just 171 points back from the leader. Ganassi teammates Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears finished eighth and 36th respectively.
The Coors Light team races at Texas next weekend. The Samsung/Radio Shack 500 will be broadcast live on FOX television and PRN radio on Sunday, April 4th.