Daytona Marlin preview

Marlin Seeks Bookend Victory in July 6 Pepsi 400 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20) -- Sterling Marlin is a strong bet to garner a victory in the Pepsi 400 July 6 at Daytona International Speedway, based on his performance in the Daytona 500 and...

Marlin Seeks Bookend Victory in July 6 Pepsi 400 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20) -- Sterling Marlin is a strong bet to garner a victory in the Pepsi 400 July 6 at Daytona International Speedway, based on his performance in the Daytona 500 and a victory in the Winston Select 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. If not for a rare engine failure in the season-opening event, Marlin had a good chance to win three straight editions of the world's greatest race. Now, he's looking to the 38th annual "Mid-Summer Classic" to bookend his pair of Daytona 500 scores. "I think our odds of winning at Daytona are as good as anybody's," modestly notes Marlin, who has four second place finishes in the Pepsi 400, including one a year ago to Jeff Gordon. "We had a part failure that took us out in February (Daytona 500) so we really need to come down and win the deal and show everybody that the problems that sidelined us were a fluke." Marlin bounced back at Talladega to muscle his way to victory, but he's not satisfied. When it comes to NASCAR's longest, fastest tracks, Marlin and the Morgan-McClure Racing/Kodak Film Chevrolet team have got the program figured out. "You figure we won the last restrictor plate race and it sure would be nice to win a couple more of them," Marlin said. "I'll flat get greedy when it comes to winning at Daytona!" Morgan-McClure's long-track record in the 90's with Marlin and Ernie Irvan has been downright spectacular. Since 1991, the team has at least one win per season at either Daytona or Talladega -- in all, eight wins through 22 races. In addition to Marlin's Daytona 500 twin-kills, Irvan won the Pepsi 400 in 1992 and the 500 in '91. "Let's not kid anybody -- the restrictor plate tracks are our strong suit," says Team Manager Larry McClure. "We've shown that we can win at other places, but when it comes to this team getting pumped up about racing somewhere it's hard to overlook our record on the superspeedways." Marlin's crew chief, Tony Glover, who like his current driver grew up in the shadow of a famed driver father -- former NASCAR Sportsman Division terror Gene Glover -- would take Morgan-McClure's accomplishments to the extreme. "I'd race 30 times a year at Daytona if NASCAR wanted us to," said the mechanical wizard, chuckling. "We seem to be at our best at Daytona and Talladega and I think that's where we seem to really show what we're capable of. Sterling's a talented driver and there's a lot of talent on this race team." The 1995 edition of the Pepsi 400 saw a one lap dash to the finish as Gordon pulled away from Marlin and Dale Earnhardt after a restart to win his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Daytona. Gordon was also frustrated in the '96 Daytona 500 by being knocked out of the race early. He should be a contender again. Other favorites could easily be Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt. Jarrett opened the season by winning his second Daytona 500, then finished second to Marlin in the April Winston Select 500. Earnhardt, a two-time Pepsi 400 winner, ran second again in the Daytona 500 to open the year was a solid third at Talladega. Previous Pepsi 400 winners Jimmy Spencer and Irvan can also be counted upon to battle their way back into contention for another Daytona victory. Among the other hard chargers -- title contenders who have no Daytona NASCAR Winston Cup victories -- are Mark Martin, Terry Labonte and Rusty Wallace. Add to that list Ken Schrader, Jeff Burton, Ted Musgrave and plenty of others and it's definitely a "you-pick-'em" race. "It's always a challenge to win down there and it's something I always look real forward to," summed-up Glover, a respected and fiery competitor. "We all love a good challenge!" Good reserved seats are still available for the July 6 Pepsi 400, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. For information and seat selection call the Daytona International Speedway Ticket Office at (904) 253-RACE (7223).  --=====================_835320663==_--

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Ken Schrader , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Ted Musgrave , Mark Martin