Dodge This Teleconference Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003 Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid) NOTE: Marlin heads to the Irish Hills for Sunday's Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway with hopes of improving on the sixth-place...
Dodge This Teleconference
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003
Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid)
NOTE: Marlin heads to the Irish Hills for Sunday's Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway with hopes of improving on the sixth-place finish he scored there in June. In five races at MIS since joining the Dodge ranks in 2001, Marlin has finished third, first, 21st, sixth and sixth at the two-mile track.
"We've got the same car we had at Michigan in the spring, and it ran real good for us. We made some changes on Sunday morning. We thought we had about a 15th-place car and we ran a lot better in the race. If we get it driving as good as we did in the last race, I think we'll be in good shape."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON THE NEED OF A TRAVELING NASCAR MEDICAL TEAM?
"As much as it's grown the past five years, I think it's time they had their own medical team. That's our opinion. Whether they do it or not, I don't know."
DO THE DRIVERS DISCUSS NEED FOR FULL-TIME MEDICAL TEAM?
"Sometimes you're in the motorhome lot or wherever and it gets brought up, but it doesn't get brought up much. I've heard it over the past few years. Indy cars have got it and we don't, so I think it would definitely help them out."
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR FIRST WIN IN DODGE AT MIS?
"We'd come close all year to winning and went to Indianapolis and ran second. We went to Michigan the race before and ran third and led a good bit of it. Going back to Michigan, we felt like if nothing didn't happen we were going to win the race. It rained and we were running sixth and Tony Glover said, 'why don't we just go on and take sixth?' I said, 'no, if we restart back I'm going to win this thing.' We restarted, came in and put four tires on and started about sixth or seventh and got the lead. I always enjoy racing at Michigan, and it's right there in all the manufacturers backyard. We gave Dodge bragging rights over the winter, anyway."
WHY IS RYAN NEWMAN'S TEAM ONLY ONE TO WIN IN DODGE?
"He's run good, and they've got good equipment over there. They took a big gamble and stayed out at Pocono. We were where we needed to be. We had to pit, and the way the race played out we had a lot of caution flags and they didn't have to pit. That was a race we had a good shot to win or at least a top three and ended up 10th because of gas mileage. They played it right. They're smart, and they were a little lucky. You take it all and win some races."
WHAT MAKES BRISTOL SO SPECIAL?
"I guess it's just the atmosphere. To me it's like a college down the road at UT. It's just like a college football stadium. Everything is so close and it's a half-mile track. I guess there's not a bad seat in the house, and you can see everything going on. There's a lot going on all night. There's a lot of passing, and smoke flying and sparks flying. It's mayhem all night. I think fans like to see a real close race. Sometimes you get caught in something. You're following somebody and they check up and you've got to check up. It's like a chain reaction. Somebody runs into the back of somebody and turns them around and takes out two or three cars. It's a track where you've got to have a lot of patience. You can have a better car and get up under somebody and they keep chopping you and chopping you and finally you run out of patience. You're going to turn him around if he don't get out of the way."
WHEN DO SAFETY CREWS GET GREEN LIGHT?
"I don't know what the deal is. I guess NASCAR's got total control of the safety vehicles and they don't leave until they get the command to go. I'm in the racecar and I don't hear the scanners and when they say go and not to go. A lot of times you've got to let the field get caught up before they can go out on the racetrack. If the cars go back in the infield, the safety crews can get to them. If they're on the outside of the track, the safety crews have to wait on the caution. They're working on it. When we got hurt at Richmond last year, to the best of my memory they were there pretty quick. By the time I got out of the car the safety guys were there. The same thing at Kansas. Those were the two wrecks I was in last year, and the response time for me was good. I guess it depends on where you are."
WHAT'S YOUR OPINION ON ROOF HATCH?
"We've got the roof flaps in and the escape hatch, I don't know what will be left of the roof. My concern is if the car goes flipping the hatch is going to come open. That's my concern. I think the way it is it's OK. I'd rather have the roof on my head than the hatch to fly open."
COMMENT ON LAST LABOR DAY RACE AT DARLINGTON
"I was thinking about it the other day. We run really good at Darlington, and I'd like to be the last guy to win the Southern 500 on Labor Day. Hopefully we can. It's always been a big race for me. I know we're going to really try to be good that day. You've got to try to race the track. The track loses its grip a whole lot and you've got to be easy on the accelerator up off the corners and get the car driving good. I love the place. The first time I ever drove around the place was in my dad's car and I ran faster than he did, so I've always enjoyed it."
HAS COMPETITION CHANGED MUCH RECENTLY?
"The competition is still there. The stuff on these cars change so much. The aero, springs, bars, shocks we're running now. It's a constant deal. Week in and week out, we try to stay ahead of the game and make the cars right. As far as the competition it's always been there."
WHAT WOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN TRAVELING SAFETY CREW?
"Maybe the response time could be quicker. I know Ryan was pretty critical of them at Watkins Glen. He was trapped on the driver's side and there's a big fear there if gas was leaking it would catch on fire. I don't know how long it took them to get to him. He was on the outside of the track, so I guess it took them a long time to get to him."
IS RACING FRUSTRATING NOW?
"You look back over the year and there's been a lot of races that gas mileage and pit strategy, putting on four tires, two tires to get track position because it's so hard to pass (decides the winner). I think NASCAR is looking at some things with springs maybe to get the cars off the ground a little bit. Maybe they could cut the spoilers off and they wouldn't have as much downforce and it wouldn't be so hard to pass. At places like Kansas and Chicago, you're going so fast through the corners it's impossible to pass somebody on the outside. At a track like Rockingham, when the pace slows down so much, you can pass high, low, in the middle or wherever. It's the same way at Charlotte. These high speed tracks that have a lot of grip and really don't have a second groove worked in, it's hard to pass. Goodyear has had a good tire all year. I think if they took some downforce off they'd have to come with a softer tire. That's going to put you right back where you are now. I don't know until they test and see."
DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGY THAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF YOUR EXPERIENCE?
"Not really. You just try to position yourself all through the race to be where you need to be. A lot of guys now when they get in the fuel window they'll go ahead and pit just to get track position. When another caution comes out and other guys pit, they'll get ahead of them and stay out. It's got to be where the crew chief and everybody has got to really think the game out. At a track like Darlington, you've got to have new tires so when you hit pit road you've got to get four tires because the tires fall off so quick. These other places it's either four tires, two tires, no tires. Somebody could be running 20th and wind up running third or fourth when the race ends. It's pretty frustrating to have a good car and come home 10th or 12th when you have a top-three car and get beat on pit strategy."
COMMENT ON NOVEMBER UNDER THE LIGHTS AT DARLINGTON
"It'll always be Darlington, but to me the Southern 500 on Labor Day was special. That's the way it's been since 1950. When I was a kid I remember going over to watch the thing. Then as I got older, we'd play football on Friday night and ride over, me and a couple of guys off the team and go to Myrtle Beach on Sunday and pit daddy's car on Monday. It was just a lot of memories. I hate to see they're moving it, but there's nothing we can do about it."