Texas: Sterling Marlin race report

Marlin Gets Best Finish of 2005 at Texas Motor Speedway Ft. Worth, Texas (April 18, 2005) --- Sterling Marlin and the Coors Light crew battled back from a loose wheel and going a lap down, to finish fifth in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at...

Marlin Gets Best Finish of 2005 at Texas Motor Speedway

Ft. Worth, Texas (April 18, 2005) --- Sterling Marlin and the Coors Light crew battled back from a loose wheel and going a lap down, to finish fifth in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Marlin's fifth-place finish is his first top-five and third top-10 finish of the 2005 season.

"We had a real good car today," Marlin said. "I'd like to thank all the guys at the shop for all their hard work and all the motor guys. The crew here did a great job. We had a real good car. We just got a vibration early and had to pit and got way behind. We got in all that traffic, and it's hard to come up through there. We gambled and put on two tires, and that's the best the car drove all day. It was so hard to pass.

"If you started back 10th on the restart with all those slow cars, they were half a track ahead of you before you knew it," Marlin continued. "We gambled and made the call. Tony Glover and Steve Boyer made some great calls and did a great job all day. The guys have really worked hard on the cars and bodies and chassis and stuff. That's what it takes, a good-handling car. The motor room has really stepped it up and we're all picking up steam. Glover made an excellent call to put on two tires. I guess the lefts had 20 laps on them. That was the best the car drove all day in clean air. It's great to have all three (Ganassi Dodge Chargers) in the top five. If the car drives good you can run good. The boys on the crew have done an excellent job, and it's showing up on the track."

When the green flag dropped for the 334-lap race, Marlin and the Coors Light Dodge were in the 13th starting spot, Marlin's best start at Texas in nine starts. It took only four laps for Marlin to break into the top 10. When the first caution came out on lap four, he was in the 10th spot and reporting that the car seemed good. Marlin continued to move up in the field, was eighth on lap 18 and turning the fastest laps on the track. The yellow flag waved again on lap 23, and the Coors Light Dodge was seventh. Marlin told the crew that the car was getting just a little tight.

Team manager Tony Glover called Marlin down pit road, and the Coors Light crew put on right-side tires and fuel. The team quickly sent Marlin back out on the track in the lead. Marlin restarted on lap 27 in the top spot. After three laps of leading the pack around the 1.5 mile track, fellow Dodge driver Jeremy Mayfield made a pass on Marlin after crossing the finish line on lap 28.

Trouble happened on lap 60 when Marlin, who was running seventh, radioed that he thought he had a tire going down. Marlin brought the Coors Light Dodge down pit road under green-flag conditions for four fresh tires and fuel. The Silver Bullet returned to the track 33rd, one lap down to the leaders on lap 61. Seventeen laps later, the Coors Light crew got the break they needed when the caution came out and received NASCAR's free pass.

Marlin came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment before returning to the track for the restart on lap 84 at the tail end of the lead lap. Within 28 laps, Marlin was up to 22nd and reporting that the car ran well but he was loose getting in turn three and tight off the corner. The Coors Light crew continued to make the necessary adjustments and was able to get Marlin into the top 20 by lap 133.

The Coors Light Dodge continued to battle its way up through the field and when the caution came out on lap 297, Marlin was in the 15th position. Glover made a pit strategy call and had the Coors Light Dodge fitted for right-side tires only and fuel. The decision gave Marlin track position as he returned to the track fourth with teammates Casey Mears leading and McMurray in third. When racing resumed on lap 308, Marlin was fourth. The No. 48 car was able to get by on lap 318, and Marlin held the fifth spot for the remaining 16 laps when checkered flag waved.

The Coors Light Dodge's fifth-place finish was the team's best finish at a 1.5-mile or greater track since Jamie McMurray won at Charlotte in the car in 2002.

Marlin's fifth-place finish elevated him six spots to sixth in the NEXTEL Cup championship points, just 12 points out of the fifth position. Ganassi teammates McMurray and Mears finished second and fourth respectively. This is the first time that all three Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammates have finished in the top five.

The Coors Light team travels to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend for the Subway Fresh 500 on Saturday night for the first night race of the 2005 season.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Sterling Marlin , Jamie McMurray , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates