Chicagoland: Sterling Marlin - Dodge interview

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge) "At this track here you've got to get a lot of track position. It's kind of hard to pass on, because it hasn't got its second groove worked in. If you play your cards right, you can put two tires on...

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge)

"At this track here you've got to get a lot of track position. It's kind of hard to pass on, because it hasn't got its second groove worked in. If you play your cards right, you can put two tires on and get track position, get up front and see what you've got."

How would you describe your role w/in Ganassi? Mentor? Leader?

"I don't know. They've really come along. Casey has really come along this year, and stepped it up. They've been running good. Jamie has been running good even since last year. It's good having three cars. If one car is off a little bit, we can always go get in a team meeting and swap stuff around. We'll see who's got what chassis package, springs, sway bars, shocks and what not. We can put it in our car, or their car or vice-versa."

Focus on second-half of season

"We're hoping to have a little better luck. We've been caught in a lot of other people's messes this year, and we've had some breakdowns on our part. With the few brakes we've had, we've really run good like we needed to. Running 15th or something, that's not what we're here for. So, we've just got to get the cars going better, driving a little better, and we'll knock out some top fives or top 10s."

Testing at Loudon last week

"It looks like the track is not quite as fast as it was with this new pavement. The No. 8 was there, and the No. 15 was there. Jeremy (Mayfield) was there. It was all about the same speed. It's the same old New Hampshire. We had a pretty good test. We found some stuff in the last hour we were there that kind of helped the car about three-tenths. We'll just go back and see what we've got.

"To me New Hampshire is one of the hardest tracks to get your car dialed in on. When you're too tight and too loose, you can't ever get that good combination that you need. It's just a flat track that's tough to pass on. To me, it's always come up and we've had trouble with it. Since they've paved it, it looked like they did a good job on it, but it'll still be a one-groove deal."

Racing surface at Chicago

"It seems like every time we come back here the little rougher it gets. It's gotten a little rougher this time. You bottom out a little bit in turns one and two, and three-four is still pretty smooth. It's got a couple bumps in turns one and two that you hit, but it's just going to work in to something to challenge us."

Will yesterday's rain help take away from any second groove on this track?

"The Busch cars will run today, and they'll burn a top groove in pretty close. It's not really bad. You run so fast here it seems like the tire they've got here has really got a lot of grip to it -- more than they had last year. Last year you'd start off and you'd have to hold your breath the first three or four laps you'd be so loose. We qualified on stickers yesterday. We didn't get the chance to work them in. We thought that we could've run faster, but the stickers hook up here pretty quick. But you run so fast in the corner here, it's really hard -- it's not like a Charlotte where you get slower and slower and then you pass somebody on the outside -- you barely get out of the gas here, you just burp it and get right back in the gas. That's what makes it so hard to get outside. The favorite groove is on the inside where you've got that much grip. If you're out of the gas just a second, it's really hard for that outside groove to come in."

On possibility of NASCAR having mandated green-flag finishes in Cup racing

"It doesn't matter -- whatever they want to do. We do it back at home when we race at local tracks. We'll just see how the fans like it. The Truck Series has done it. It would be bad if a man's sitting here with the dominant car, and the caution comes out. The second place car has got one shot at it to get his bumper to him, and somebody will get taken out with a green-white-checkered flag finish.

"I'd say the drivers probably wouldn't be in favor of it. If a caution comes out with three or four laps to go, just lock them in and let them finish just like they are."

Noticed any change in Casey Mears' confidence?

"I think he's just got a better feel for the car. He didn't run but one year of Busch Series and then came on and started in Cup. I think he's really got a good feel for the car, has what he needs and can tell Jimmy what he needs in the car. Last year you kind of looked at some of their setups and said, 'Man, I don't know about that.' They really qualified good last year at times, but once you started the race he'd kind of come back. This year he's qualifying good and racing good. I think he's gotten more comfortable with where he's at. He has a better feel for the car, and it's showing."

On staying motivated when things out of your control happen and you find yourself out of the top 10

"It's pretty frustrating. I mean, for me it is. We can run top-five and win races. But, when you can't run 15th, that's what I'm not here for. That's not what they're here for either. But, when a lot of it is out of our control, you can't control it. You've just got to work hard on your stuff. You see teams that really don't run that good for the first half of the year. Then it's like you flip a switch, and from the mid-year on you really run good. In 2001, from the middle of the season on, we really came on and ran good. The half of 2002 we really ran good -- we had the most points of anybody. It's just a deal of finding what the car wants, what it needs and just go from there."

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Sterling Marlin , Casey Mears