Marlin Has Mixed Feelings About Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (Sept. 27, 2006)--Sterling Marlin says his relationship with Kansas Speedway is bittersweet. It's not only a track he likes, but one where he has run well, including a fifth-place finish in Kansas' inaugural Cup race in 2001.
But for Marlin, Kansas is also a track that conjures up a bad memory. It was at the 1.5-mile oval where his championship hopes ended during a stellar 2002 season.
Entering the Kansas race in September 2002, Marlin was in contention to capture the prestigious Cup title, only 81 points out of first place in the driver standings. But a racing-related neck injury during that Sunday's race sidelined him for the final seven events, ending his quest for his first season championship.
"No question that was pretty disappointing for me -- we were right there in the hunt for the championship," recalled Marlin, who was the points leader in 2002 for 25 straight weeks. "That was one of the most frustrating times of my career."
Since then, Marlin's best finish at Kansas was a 13th-place result last year.
"I'll always wonder, 'what if', but that's all behind me now," said Marlin. "I had some good runs at Kansas before that day and I've had some good runs since. My goal this weekend is to have another good one in my Ginn Clubs & Resorts Chevrolet."
Kansas Speedway may be the first of five 1.5-mile tracks on the Chase schedule, but it's hardly a reflection of any other, according Marlin.
"Kansas is a track of its own," he explained. "It has its own quirks and personality and you have to have a car that's tuned for each turn. It's a one-of-a-kind place and you have to be ready for it."
With Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas and Homestead remaining on the NEXTEL Cup schedule, Marlin is aware the performance by his Ginn Clubs & Resorts team in this weekend's Banquet 400 can help its performance in those other 1.5-mile events, but it won't necessarily predict the outcomes.
"If you run well at one of these cookie-cutter ovals it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to run well at the rest," noted Marlin. "Certainly some information transfers from place to place, but for the most part Kansas is a different track altogether."
"What we will focus on this weekend is finding a way to get to the front and staying there," continued Marlin. "We've had some pretty good starting spots lately--we just have to work on staying there when the green flag drops."
-credit: mb2 motorsports