Sterling Marlin takes 136-point advantage to Michigan for Father's Day fireworks in Sirius Satellite Radio 400.
BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 12, 2002) - Sterling Marlin remembers his last visit to Michigan International Speedway like it was only yesterday.
The luck of the Irish rode with Marlin in his No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T on Aug. 19, 2001 in Michigan's Irish Hills. Scoring an historic victory for Dodge, its first since returning to the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit after a 25-year absence, Marlin and his Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team celebrated inside the garage area as rain continued to soak the two-mile oval. Marlin won the scheduled 400-mile race after 162 of 200 laps when rain finally halted the high-speed action.
"It meant a lot to everybody involved with our team to win that first race for Dodge," Marlin said."We'd come close before, and I was determined not to let another one slip through our fingers. It's always big to win at Michigan, and we'd like to go up there this weekend and get another one.
"We got back in gear last week at Pocono, and it felt great to get back in the top five. Now we want to get back in the winner's circle and keep our lead in the standings. It was great to get that first win for Dodge, and I can think of a million reasons why we want to win the first championship."
A million dollar bonus is at stake for any Dodge team that wins the 2002 Winston Cup championship, and the driver of the championship team would win a 2003 Dodge Viper. Marlin enjoys a 136-point advantage atop the leaderboard, and he's held that same margin for two straight races. Marlin remains first in championship points for the
13th-straight race (Rockingham to Pocono). He is the only driver to rank in the top-10 in NASCAR Winston Cup championship points since the 2001 Daytona 500, and he has finished 19th or better in every points race this season. Marlin will have plenty of company from other Dodge drivers at Michigan on Father's Day Sunday in the Sirius Satellite Radio 400. Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge Intrepid R/T, finished third behind Marlin last August at MIS. Elliott leads all active drivers with seven victories at MIS, and he has 29 top-10 finishes in 48 starts at the two-mile oval.
Sophomore Winston Cup driver Casey Atwood, driver of the No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T, is fresh off a season-best 11th-place finish last week at Pocono. The 21-year-old driver from Nashville, Tenn., recently tested at Michigan with his Ultra/Evernham Motorsports Dodge team, and is anxious to give Marlin and Elliott a run for their money on Sunday. Atwood finished 10th last year as a rookie in the August Michigan race.
Dodge drivers Kyle Petty, Jimmy Spencer, John Andretti and Ward Burton have recorded top five finishes in the past at Michigan. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, President and CEO DaimlerChrysler Corportation will serve as Grand Marshal for the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 and Jim Schroer, Executive VP DaimlerChrysler Corportation, will give the command to start engines.
Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels will join other celebrities at MIS on Father's Day Sunday.
In other action involving Dodge and Mopar-powered racing teams this weekend, the Pennzoil World of Outlaw Series is at O'Reilly Autoparts Motor Speedway in Topeka, Kan., on Friday and Saturday for the 97 Country Outlaws Nationals, and the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series will compete at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville, Ohio.
Weekend TV and Radio Schedule
* Friday, June 14, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup Qualifying from Michigan International Speedway. 3 p.m. on MRN Radio and FSN-TV.
* Saturday, June 15, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup Happy Hour from Michigan International Speedway. Tape delay 6 p.m. on FX-TV.
* Saturday, June 15, 2002. NHRA Qualifying. 8-10 p.m. ESPN2; repeat Sunday, June 16, 4:30-5 a.m. ESPN2.
* Sunday, June 16, 2002. Final Round NHRA. 8:30-11 p.m. ESPN2. Repeat, Wednesday, June 19, 2002. 2:30-4:30 p.m. ESPN2.
* Sunday, June 16, 2002. NASCAR Winston Cup pre-race show. 12:30 p.m. Fox-TV and MRN Radio.
* Sunday, June 16, 2002, NASCAR Winston Cup Sirius Satellite Radio 400. 1 p.m. Fox-TV and MRN Radio.
NHRA POWERade Series
Larry Morgan has spent the last few days testing his Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T and enters this weekend's hometown NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series tilt at National Trail Raceway with high expectations.
The Newark, Ohio, resident, which is a little more than 10 miles away from National Trail Raceway, has been hard at work with testing and engine development. Following qualifying at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), Morgan tested at Gateway International. He's also made some laps at nearby Norwalk (Ohio) Raceway Park.
"We're trying to get back on track," Morgan said. And this weekend is a big one for us because its in front of family and friends. We think we've found some our issues and we look for a good weekend.
"We definitely want to perform well this weekend," Morgan continued."Not only will family and friend be there, but this also is the closest race to Detroit. And, as we all know, Mopar and Dodge are there. So, this weekend means a lot."
Morgan, 47, was the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to make a 200-plus mph pass with the new factory designed 500-cubic-inch Pro Stock Hemi. Morgan has racked up eight Pro stock victories and four No. 1 qualifiers over his 15-year professional NHRA career. The veteran driver also has seven NHRA Sportsman category national event victories to his credit.
Pennzoil World of Outlaws
Mark Kinser, driver of the Mopar-powered Maxim, will try to gain some ground on points leader and defending series champion Danny Lasoski and Steve Kinser this weekend in Topeka, Kan.
Lasoski continues to lead the series standings after 28 races with seven wins and 4,227 points. Steve Kinser has 4,204 points and eight victories, while Mark Kinser has 4,071 points and three victories.