STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid) Comments from Winston Breakfast Club "If you look back, I think the guys on the team knew we had a top five car the first three races. At Atlanta we just didn't hit it just right and finished...
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid)
Comments from Winston Breakfast Club
"If you look back, I think the guys on the team knew we had a top five car the first three races. At Atlanta we just didn't hit it just right and finished 14th. There's a lot of ifs, ands and buts in racing, but we could be sitting top five in the points with three top fives but we don't. You have to take the good with the bad. We've got a good race team and we're off in a couple of areas, but it's something we can fix. It's nothing that we can't fix. We can fix it pretty quick.
"I always enjoy racing at Darlington. It's one of the best tracks for me. I really like it here. It's a really challenging track. We've had a good car the past two years here, so we qualified good yesterday and hopefully we can get the car driving as good as we did last year in both races and we'll be right there.
"I think they should look at some Saturday night races and drop the road courses. It would save money for the teams. I ain't got nothing against going out there to California, but I think if we had a good track like Richmond, Va., or something like that where we could put a good show on for the fans it would be OK. Leave Darlington on there. This is a tradition here for me. I sure would hate to see 'em lose a race here. I would like to see 'em run Sonoma one week and Fontana the next week. I know they're not going to do it. I enjoy going out there, but you're really going out there three times a year.
"Look back the past two years and I think we'd led a lot of laps coming into Darlington. I think we might have led one or two laps this year. I think we're off. I think we're off in two or three areas, a tenth here and a tenth there and you're right back on top leading races. The guys back at the shop are trying to redo some stuff. With the body stuff, we lost some downforce we had last year. They're working hard trying to get it back. I think we're behind a little bit on the motor stuff. We've got to work on it a little bit, just different areas. Chip is working on a lot of things, and the guys at the shop are, too.
"None. I don't see them redoing the entire schedule. I'd like to see some Saturday night races. I think the fans really enjoy it. I know we do. A lot of guys get to get home and be with the wife and kids on Sunday. Hopefully this won't be one of the races we lose.
"We had to cut every body off the cars. The deal this year is they've got everybody with the same body location, front to rear. They made all different templates. Last year everybody was offset their rear ends to the right. You could twist the car a lot to get the downforce you needed and still get through the templates they had last year. This year they came with different templates. They're supposed to fit every car the same. I guess they do. I haven't been up there to look at 'em. For some reason, we lost downforce in the rear of the car. The chassis setups we've been running, we had to change them up a little bit. Here, we went out yesterday with the setup we ran last year and we put a totally different setup in it. If you'd told me this setup would work I would have told you you were crazy, but it worked pretty good yesterday.
"This is a weird deal. We went to Michigan in 2001 and won the race and ran third. We came back last year for the June race with the same setup and ran 21st and just got stomped. The setups change so quick in these cars. It's amazing how quick you can change the stuff up. We went back to Michigan for the second race last year and ran sixth with a total different setup from what we ran the year before. I don't know if it's the aero or tires or tracks changing over the winter or what it is. Some setups you're running now you've completely gone crazy.
"I didn't even make a lap yesterday when if first opened up. We qualified so good last year here and went out to practice on the same setup we had. We went through the gears and came off turn two and almost spun out over there. We went through three and four and almost hit the fence. I just came on in. We've got to fix this thing. We weren't even up to speed and almost wrecked. It's just crazy how quick the stuff changes on you.
"You've got to have an open mind. It can't be a deal where you say we ran this last year and the year before. I like changing stuff a lot, and Glover will say 'be careful now. You don't know what it's going to do.' He kinda likes to run the same stuff over and over. I know when we had the 4 car and totally dominated on the speedways. We'd go to Talladega and I'd say, 'Glover let's pump this thing up 200 pounds in the front and maybe pick the rear up.' I'd have to fight him. We went out and would be two tenths quicker. You've just got to have an open mind. There's some stuff and why it works I don't know, but it might be the aero on the cars or the tires or the whole package. Jake Elder and Bud Moore and some of them guys if you told them what setup you had they'd say you were plum nuts, gone loco. It's crazy how some of it works.
"The first time by you just hammer down, but I couldn't hammer down because it was fixing to wreck. I think what helped us coming here is Casey (teammate Mears) came down here and tested and made some qualifying runs and race runs. He put the setup in we had last year for some races runs and it was pretty good. They went to one of those crazy setups and it was better. We did the same thing yesterday to back it up. Casey gave us a jump on a setup that you might have been a little leery about doing. They ran it and it ran pretty good.
"It's a lot different. This year at Daytona in the garage I probably signed 20 autographs and last year I probably signed 500. I signed another 1,500 behind the truck. I think it's working real good. You've got time to talk to the crew guys beside the car and not get stampeded when you're trying to explain what you want to do with the car.
"It's always tough here. It seems like the past two years, like turn two, the pavement is coming apart but it doesn't come apart. It's really got some rough places in one and two. Three and four are about the same. I don't know if the sun beats down on turn two in the summer, but it's almost like the pavement has melted. It's really bumpy off turn two. You can go to a place like Chicago or Kansas of wherever and it's so much nose to tail and if you get up on someone to pass them you get aero push. Here it's just pure handling. You might slip and slide but if you can hang on to it you can turn under and drive by 'em and go on. That's that I like about here and Rockingham. The track gets slick and like if we're running 29 flats lap after lap at Kansas or wherever, here the track slows down almost two seconds and with a good-handling car you can pass somebody.
"We think so. We were here last year and had to start at the rear for this race. I just told myself I had a good car and had to be patient and try to dodge all the stuff coming up through there. I guess we ran 40 laps before the first caution. Glover came on the radio and asked how they could help me. I told him I didn't have any grip they had to fix it. He said they didn't have to do much because I was two tenths faster than the leader. I said we'd just leave it alone. I thought it was terrible, but we finally go to the front.
"It's not 36 races because I missed seven races last year. We had a good shot to win Pocono. We ran good here in the fall. We just had found ourselves last year when we got hurt. We went to Kentucky a lot and found some stuff in the car and got hurt. We started this year and had to cut the bodies off and restart again on some things. We've got some tests scheduled to go to Nashville and go to Kentucky and try to get better. You can't stop in this sport. You've got to keep working day in and day out to be good.
"It's helped us a little bit because we can't test much. They get seven tests. They've gone to every track we've been to so far and tested. Casey (Mears) has surprised me so far. He's run really good this year. Jamie has proved he can win a race, so I've got two good teammates. You can get some good information coming back to you on some things that we can't go run.
"Casey never has drove a Cup car here. He got our notes from last year and went through them and threw something crazy at it. They tried some different things and found out it was better than what we had last year. Like I said, you can't be stubborn and say this is what we ran last year and this is what we're going to run. You've got to look at the stop watch and say, 'them guys found something better.' You've got to open minded and put it in the car and see what it does.
"I thought the 88 car was going to be pretty good last week. He finished 25th or something in the race. You can't ever tell. At Atlanta, we practiced and it was cloudy like this and then it was sunny during the race. It totally changes the setup on the car. We guessed at some stuff Sunday morning. We weren't real good all day long, but we ran 14th. It's just the combination of getting the car right. Some guys run super soft on the front end and sometimes it works and sometimes it don't.
"It's not (scary). I spun out once five times at Bristol and got help three times. I thought, 'good night, this is getting old here.' I never hit nothing, but I was lucky. Sometimes you hit the perfect setup. Sometimes you think you've got all your Ts crossed and Is dotted and you look around and you're running 25th and doing all you can do. It's so competitive now. You miss it just a little bit and you run 25th.
"A lot of people around home and talking to fans, a lot of people love to go to Bristol. You can sit up high and look right down on the track and see everything that goes on. It's a pretty exciting track. Action is going on all the time, and I think that's what fans really like to see. It's one of my favorite tracks to go to. The racing is really fast, and you can move around and pass. I think the fans really enjoy watching the racing at Bristol.
"It (carbon monoxide) has never bothered me at Bristol. Martinsville is the track that really bothers me. I guess you run so fast at Bristol it blows the stuff up. The fans get it. Martinsville, you get a lot of heat in the car and the air doesn't stir around good at Martinsville. Used to be at Nashville, Tenn., it really got hot there in July.
"Steadman is going to run at Texas. He missed a race at Vegas by points. He ran there last year and ran decent. He's going to test there Monday and Tuesday. I hope it doesn't rain so he can get in the race."