Dodge dances back to victory lane at Michigan Sterling Marlin's victory in Sunday's Pepsi 400 Presented by Meijer culminated Dodge's return to NASCAR Winston Cup Racing. Behind the wheel of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T owned by...
Dodge dances back to victory lane at Michigan
Sterling Marlin's victory in Sunday's Pepsi 400 Presented by Meijer culminated Dodge's return to NASCAR Winston Cup Racing. Behind the wheel of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T owned by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Marlin took the lead on lap 145 and led the remainder of the rain-shortened NASCAR Winston Cup race at the two-mile track.
It was Marlin's first victory in the past 170 races. His last win came in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in 1996. Marlin now has seven career victories in 526 career starts.
It was Dodge's first victory at Michigan since Aug. 24, 1975 with Richard Petty, and Dodge's first win on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit since Neil Bonnett won at Ontario, Calif., on Nov. 20, 1977.
Here are other noteworthy Dodge racing milestones:
* Dodge last raced at Daytona 18 years ago with Rick Baldwin behind the wheel in 1983.
* Dodge announced its return to NASCAR Winston Cup racing on Oct. 14, 1999.
* The first Dodge Intrepid R/T race car officially took the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway on May 8, 2000.
* Lee Petty won the first NASCAR Winston Cup race in a Dodge at West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 1, 1953.
* Sunday's victory was win No. 161 for Dodge in NASCAR Winston Cup competition.
* Phil Good drove the last Dodge to compete in a NASCAR Winston Cup race on June 9, 1985 at Pocono.
* Dick Joslin drove the first Dodge in the Daytona 500 in 1959. He finished 28th.
* In 27 years, prior to Marlin's victory Sunday, Dodge drivers scored 160 wins, 168 poles, two NASCAR manufacturers titles, and five drivers drove a Dodge during their their championship season (Lee Petty, Buck Baker, David Pearson, Bobby Isaac and Richard Petty.
(No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It felt really great. Me and Glover were together in 1996 and won the Pepsi 400. It's been awhile getting back. I just feel like with the team that Lee and Tony and Chip and Felix have put together that we'd be back. We've been real close all year. We just kept hammering away. We had a good car here in June and had a chance to win the race and it got away from us. Indy got away from us. With a little luck we could have won three or four races. I kept watching them clouds get bigger. Tony and Lee made the right call to put on four tires. I guess we started the race back seventh or eighth or ninth. It took us awhile to get to the front, but we got there. It kept getting darker and darker and darker. I kept looking when I came off turn four toward turn one and the clouds were getting so dark. It hadn't started raining, but I was praying to the Good Lord to let it rain. It finally rained.
"I didn't think there was (a rivalry to see which Dodge would win first). I've been asked that a lot, but we were just paying attention to our business and didn't worry about anybody else. We've got a bunch of good hard working guys. They rolled their sleeves up and went to work. They worked their guts out all winter. They worked seven days a week and at night time to get the job done.
"Any time we don't win we're disappointed. If something had happened to us today, I would have liked to seen a Dodge win. Our guys have worked hard all year and felt like we tried to be the best Dodge team. We've run real good all year. Yeah, it probably would have hurt a little bit if somebody had won besides us because we've been so close. We've got good race teams.
"Tony and Lee made a great call. We pitted after the first rain delay and put on four tires. When we restarted, it started raining in turn three again. We didn't know if it was going to rain again and stop the race. A guy running 18th or 20th might have won the race if they had stayed out. They made a great call. We saw yesterday in practice that new tires run good for four or five laps.
"We're sitting here, so it worked pretty good.
"My car worked good on the bottom and the top. At one point before the first rain delay, we had moved to the top and picked up. We were running as fast as Rusty. I guess Elliott was six seconds ahead and we reeled him in and passed him. I saw Ricky coming, and I said I had to get back to the high side in three and four.
"This is the same car we had here in June. I think we had one of the cars to beat, and Jeff and Ricky got by us on that last restart. There's a lot of ifs in racing. If a caution hadn't come out, we would have won it. If a caution hadn't come out at Indy, we would have won it. These cars are awful good. It's run third, second and first, so it's a good race car for us.
"It means a whole lot to everybody. Me and Tony and Lee sitting here. Chip and Felix and everybody. It's been a long time coming. Coors Light stuck with us through thick and thin. They were probably on their way out at the end of last year, but Chip came in and bought the team. It's everybody. I'm glad to win for everybody. I felt like I could do it given the right equipment.
"Me and Tony's been down a lot of highways together, and we work real good together. Lee is a part of it, too. I'll come in from practice and Tony will ask me what the car needs and I'll try to tell him. If I pretty much told him to put the body on backwards, he'd do it. That's what it takes. It takes a lot of guys working together. Sometimes the crew chief bows up to the driver and says it ain't going to work. Tony has always been open minded and tried things. I about had to fight him two or three times to try something, but he's real open minded. If it works, it works. If it don't, it don't.
"The first time I ever drove a race car I was 16 years old and I loved it. I grew up with race cars. My dad drove, and I've been around race cars since I was five years old. It's my life. I love it. I never in the back of my mind thought about quitting. I just felt like we were down. We didn't have the right parts and pieces. It just takes awhile to rebuild a team. Sometimes it don't. Sometimes you just jump right in and go good and sometimes it takes two or three years. With what Chip brought to the table with his racing background. Felix is one of my best friends and he told me he was in over his head and he didn't really know that much about racing. Chip put the right people in the right places.
"It's pretty gratifying. I guess I'm getting on up in years. I've been around here since I was 13. I still feel young, and I knew I could still do it if we got the right parts and pieces and equipment. We closed up a lot today. The 24 has stretched it out on the 28 and 88 and us. Jeff's got to have a couple of bad races, but he could come back to us in the points. We'll just have to roll our sleeves up and go to work. We've got a lot of races left.
"I told Tony when it rained and we were sitting sixth. He said I'd just as soon quit here. I told him to wait a minute. I thought we could get some more because before the rain delay we had one of the best cars. I thought the 2 car was going to blow up. Ricky had trouble. Our car was good on the long runs."
(Team Manager Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
"Basically, this is a new team. Chip formed a partnership with Felix and brought in Andy Graves. He's a tremendous asset, and he's been a great guy to work with. He's very intelligent, and he brought in a lot of skills from CART. Dodge has been behind us 100 percent, and we're having a better year because Chip has filled our toolbox. That's one of this favorite sayings, and that's what he's done. We've better in every position, quarterback, center, running back, every position, and that makes a big difference. It was a heck of a good day today for Dodge and Chip Ganassi. It was pretty special being the first Dodge team to win."
(Car owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)
"This is a team effort. It takes a team to win this way. You all (Dodge and Dodge dealers) have a lot of ownership on this win. When I first went to Dodge, I was nervous. The guys said, 'let's go for it.' This makes it all worthwhile. Every step, the team, Sterling, they knew it was coming. This win is for everybody."
DR. DIETER ZETSCHE
(President and CEO DaimlerChrysler Group)
"We saw history today. This whole thing only could happen with the team working together, all of them, the mechanics and driver and the team owner and the engineers and brand guys on our side, all of them together. At that moment in the pits we really felt this is a strong team. We're all working together and we'll make it. We're all so close now, we'll make it. That was really the feeling I got as Sterling took the checkered flag. There's no doubt this is about almost the most famous sport in this country, and it has so many people watching it on TV and so many people are really into it. They spend the whole weekend here starting Friday and living in their tents and all of that. Of course, the driver is the most important part. Therefore for Dodge this is something you can't pay for. It's so marvelous with this momentum. We're coming back and we're making it now. We're successful again. This is like a huge booster for us. We're now having the momentum to be totally successful with our brand and our company all together."