Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, April 20,2004 Martinsville Recap, Talladega Advance STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) NOTE: Marlin finished ninth last Sunday at Martinsville to record his third top-10 finish of the season.
Tuesday, April 20,2004
Martinsville Recap, Talladega Advance
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge)
NOTE: Marlin finished ninth last Sunday at Martinsville to record his third top-10 finish of the season. He remains 14th in the series standings after 8 of 36 events, 48 points out of 10th place.
"We had a pretty good day at Martinsville. We started 18th and got to the top 10 pretty quick. We got to second and had some bad pit stops toward the end that really hurt us. I feel like we had a shot to win the race and it just went away. Track position is so important there. If you can stay up front at Talladega it's OK, but if you're stuck in the middle or the back it's just so aggravating to pass. To get away from somebody, you just can't do it. It's 500 miles white knuckles, looking out the back, looking out the front waiting to see what's going to happen."
ARE DRIVERS CLEAR ON YELLOW LINE RULE?
"I don't know. We'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there I guess."
ANY STRANGE THINGS EVER HAPPEN TO YOU AT TALLADEGA?
"I've always heard it (legends about Talladega). It's an old air force base in WWII I reckon. (Never had anything) wacky happen to me there at all."
WHERE HAVE ALL THE SOUTHERN DRIVERS GONE?
"I don't know. It's something that I looked at about a year ago. I looked around and all of a sudden there weren't any drivers from Alabama. Bill is the only one left from Georgia. At one time you had five Alabama drivers at Talladega. I don't know if it's the way local tracks.... It's hard to go to the local tracks anymore. Used to you could go all over the country and run the same car. You could go to Birmingham, come run at Nashville. Now they've got the rules so messed up all over the country you can't take your car from place to place. I think it kinda hurt. You've got ASA and they've always had a good series and they stayed together. Some great drivers came out of the ASA and they're still running. It's just a deal in the south where the local tracks want to have their own rules. You take your car and go run one place and on Saturday night go run somewhere else. Me and Bobby Hamilton were the only ones left from Tennessee, and I don't see any more coming from Tennessee or Alabama any time soon. I want to see drivers from all over the country, but it looks like more are drifting away from the south. Hopefully they'll come back."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A GOOD RUN AT TALLADEGA?
"You've got to have a fast car, a lot of motor and a good body on it. You've got to have the breaks. If somebody goes with you and pushes you through there you can go. Me, I used to really look forward to Talladega, but now it's just hurry up and get out of there. Everybody is on top of each other and it's really hard to break away. It looks like Daytona separated pretty good. You look out the front and you look out the back all day long. You just hope you're far enough up front that when the stuff breaks out you're ahead of it. We got caught in a wreck at Daytona that took out 12 of us. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was nowhere to go. Talladega is a little wider and it really doesn't matter. Your chassis setup is not as critical at Talladega as it is at Daytona, so hopefully everybody can stay in a straight line and get this thing over with."
COMMENT ON ERNIE ELLIOTT ENGINES
"They've stepped up their program, and I'm really impressed with them on their open stuff. They've really worked hard on it over the winter, and I think they've got the best motors out there. They're really great. I thank all them guys."
ARE SOME RULES FRUSTRATING?
"The deal that happened to me in Daytona a few years ago running fifth. Elliott Sadler's ignition goes out and it's either run into the back of him or jam the brakes on or split the line. I didn't go completely below it. I had the left sides below it and I get black flagged. Elliott's crew comes on the radio and tells NASCAR the ignition went out, but it didn't do any good. Black flag him and bring him in. It depends on who you're going to get I guess."
HOW DO YOU MENTALLY PREPARE FOR TALLADEGA?
"It's just aggravating to me. If you could run faster and separate the cars more you wouldn't have to worry about it, but we haven't been to Talladega with these rules. Maybe the cars can separate a little bit. Before it's been everybody on top of each other. You try to drive between the yellow line and the other cars and it's just been a complete mess. Hopefully we can get down there and get some distance between the cars. I'd let 'em run about 205 and that would separate 'em right there."
HOW CAN YOU AVOID THE BIG WRECK?
"If you have a good car and get in the wrong lane and have to lift and you're running third or fourth and the next thing you know you're running 30th and somebody gets into somebody and away you go. The deal is you try to stay in front all day. If you're running first, second or third the odds are you're not going to get in one, but if you slip back around 15th or 20th sometimes somebody tags somebody and away you go. At Daytona a lot of guys were pushing. They were tight. You'd get three deep and the front end would just take off on the car. That might have been what happened to Sauter. He got into Vickers and he got into Michael and started the whole big wreck. You just try your best to stay out front and dodge it all. We got hung out at Talladega and got in the back. That's when they had the wickers on it, but they rechanged the rules at Daytona. It's hard to dodge a lot because you can't drive 'em in traffic. If you do, the back wheels come off the ground. We got caught in a couple of wrecks in that situation being in mid pack. It's like danged if you do and danged if you don't. Hopefully everybody can keep their fenders on and we'll run 500 miles caution free."
HOW DO YOU PICK A PIT STALL?
"It's like Martinsville last week. It's a real narrow pit road and the pits are pretty tight. Lee has done a real good job picking the pits for us all year. We got a good pit Sunday and got in and out. There are some guys you don't want to pit around. They block you in the pits and you have to back up to get around them. It's like Martinsville. If you come out second, you're really restarting fourth. We came out sixth, so you're really restarting 12th. You're fighting all those slow cars. Plate races really don't make any difference. You can get up through there. It's pretty wide, but tracks that are hard to pass on pit stops are real critical. I just more or less let Lee do it. He'll get around somebody you think might be a lap down and that'll give you a good in and out. The backstretch at Bristol works pretty good now. They've put it all on one pit road. We pitted there in the spring and ran fourth and had some good pit stops all day. All the pit roads are pretty good now. Martinsville has probably got the toughest pit road we go to. It's a good bit easier (to have an opening). It at least gives you a free in coming in, depending on which side of the opening you get on. Either side is good."
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT TALLADEGA?
"My dad ran really good there. He led a lot of races. I remember about him just itching to get down there. It was one of his favorite tracks, there and Daytona. Talladega has always been good to me. I've got a couple of wins there and poles there. It's been a great track for the Marlin family. Probably the one that would really stand out is Bill (Elliott) making up two laps under green in '86. That was a pretty wild race, and I've been in some pretty wild finishes myself coming down toward the end. There have been a lot of good moments there."
HOW DO YOU COMPETE WITH DEI AT TALLADEGA?
"I think everybody wants to see what they've got. They put a lot of emphasis on speedway stuff. I hear they've got four guys that don't do nothing but work on motors. No other team has that that I know of. They spend a lot of time in the wind tunnel. Their cars run good and drive really good. They've got two good drivers in them, so they've got the whole combination covered."
DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN IN 2002?
"Naw, there's nothing we could do about it. I got hurt and there was no way I could go back and fix it. We're just trying to get back to the way we were. It seems like we're doing pretty good right now. We're not that far out of the points race, so we can get back to where we were without any problem."