Sterling Marlin Battles Back onto the Lead Lap for a 16th-Place Finish in Atlanta Hampton, Ga. (March 20, 2005) --- After starting toward the rear of the field and getting lapped early on Sterling Marlin battled back for a 16th-place finish...
Sterling Marlin Battles Back onto the Lead Lap for a 16th-Place Finish in Atlanta
Hampton, Ga. (March 20, 2005) --- After starting toward the rear of the field and getting lapped early on Sterling Marlin battled back for a 16th-place finish in the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
After a disappointing qualifying run on Friday, the Coors Light Dodge rolled off pit road for the start of the Golden Corral 500 in the 39th spot. As the cars came around for the first lap of the race, teammate Casey Mears got loose and collected several cars to bring out the first caution of the 325-lap race.
Marlin, who was able to squeak by, jumped up to the 26th position. After a 12 minute red-flag delay while the racetrack was being blown clean, Marlin brought the Coors Light Dodge down pit road on lap four for fresh tires and fuel. The Silver Bullet restarted 27th on lap five. Marlin was able to quickly drive into the top 20 by lap 34.
Marlin continued to drive his way up through the field and was sitting 17th when green-flag pit stops began on lap 53. Marlin brought the Coors Light Dodge down pit road on lap 60 for four fresh tires and fuel. When green-flag stops had finished, Marlin was still 17th.
The Coors Light Dodge went a lap down on lap 77 when the No. 16 car passed Marlin who was 17th at the time. The yellow flag waved on lap 85 and Marlin reported that the car was loose. The Coors Light crew made a quick four tire and fuel pit stop on lap 87, and Marlin restarted 19th on lap 89.
Marlin continued to battle the handling of the car and the Coors Light crew continued to make the necessary adjustments over the next 143 laps. The break that the Coors Light team needed came on lap 232 when the yellow flag waved for the sixth caution of the race. The Coors Light crew had a lightning quick four tire, fuel and air pressure adjustment stop. Marlin returned to the track 17th, the first car a lap down to the leader.
With the hope that the Coors Light Dodge could get back on the lead lap, Marlin settled in and set his sights on keeping the 17th spot. For 41 laps, Marlin was able to hold off the cars behind him and stay in position for NASCAR's "lucky dog". The caution came out on lap 278 and the Coors Light crew erupted in cheers. Marlin was 16th and reporting that the car was good. The crew put on four tires and added fuel.
While riding around during the yellow, Marlin reported a vibration. The Coors Light Dodge returned to pit road for four more tires. Since Marlin was the last car on the lead lap, he lost no spots and was able to start 16th when racing resumed on lap 285. For the remaining 40 laps of the race, Marlin held strong and crossed the start/finish line in the 16th position.
Marlin was elevated one spot to 16th in the NEXTEL Cup championship points, just 37 points back from teammate Jamie McMurray in the 10th position. Ganassi teammates McMurray and Mears finished 11th and 19th respectively.
The Coors Light team has the Easter weekend off next week. However, look for driver Sterling Marlin to race at his hometown track of Nashville Superspeedway for the Busch Series race on Saturday. Marlin will be driving the No. 40 FitzBradshaw Dodge in the Pepsi 300 next weekend.