Marlin Leads for 51 Laps on the Way to Fourth Place Finish at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, V.A. (October 24, 2004) --- Sterling Marlin battled back from an accident on lap 16 involving the No. 40 Dodge, to finish fourth in the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The fourth-place finish was Marlin's third top-five and seventh top-10 finish of the 2004 season.
"It was fun running up front today with the Coors Light Dodge," Marlin said. "Tony Glover and the guys did a great job in the pits with all the calls, and I did all I could to bring it home in one piece. We were really good when we were running out front today. I wish we hadn't had to come in at all. I've been racing here a long time and I still have won one, but we're not giving up. We had a car that could have won today. We'll go get them next week in Atlanta and keep working hard to turn things around for next season."
After qualifying 16th, Marlin had gained two spots and was running 14th when he got caught up in a wreck on lap 16. The No. 77 spun out in front of the No. 40 Dodge and Marlin had no where to go. Marlin's spotter Dave Atkins and crew chief Tony Glover assessed the damage as Marlin brought the car down pit road on lap 18 and 19 to repair the right and left front of the Coors Light Dodge.
When racing resumed on lap 22, Marlin restarted 37th, on the lead lap. Marlin had worked his way up two spots to 35th when the third caution of the day came out on lap 40. Marlin radioed to Glover that the car was "tight off". However, in order for the No. 40 to gain some ground it lost during the accident, Glover made the call to keep the Coors Light Dodge out on the track and make the necessary adjustments on the next pit stop.
The Silver Bullet restarted third on lap 48 and continued to run up front until the yellow flag waved again on lap 65. Marlin brought the car down pit road and the Coors Light crew put on four fresh tires, added fuel and made a trackbar adjustment before sending the car back out on the track 28th.
Pit strategy came into play again on lap 106 when the caution came out and Marlin was sitting 25th. Since the No. 40 had pitted just 39 laps earlier, Glover decided to again leave the Coors Light Dodge on the track for position. Marlin took over the lead on lap 110 and was able to hang on to it for 22 laps before the No. 97 got by him with two other cars.
When the yellow flag flew on lap 183, Marlin was fourth and reporting that the car was still tight off. The Coors Light crew made a quick four tire, fuel and air pressure adjustment stop and was able to restart in the top 5 on lap 202. The Coors Light Dodge continued to run in the top 10 when the ninth caution came out on lap 321.
Marlin was reporting that the car was "too tight and chattering up off the corner" so Glover made the call to pit out of sequence on lap 322 for four fresh tires, fuel and to remove the rubber out of the right rear. Marlin restarted 15th , but when another caution came out 33 laps later, Marlin remained on the track and restarted second behind teammate Jamie McMurray on lap 361.
Marlin continued to ride out the ups and downs of short-track racing before regaining the lead on lap 411. The Coors Light Dodge led the pack for 29 laps before being passed by the No. 48, the eventual race winner. Marlin remained in the top 5 for the final 60 laps, taking the checkered flag fourth and bringing home his third top 5 finish of the season.
Marlin jumped two spots to 19th in the NEXTEL Cup championship points. Ganassi teammates McMurray and Casey Mears finished second and 29th respectively.
The Coors Light team races at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. The Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 will be broadcast live on NBC and PRN radio on Sunday, October 31st.