Daytona 500: Sterling Marlin race report

Sterling Marlin Brings Home First Top-10 Finish of the Season at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 20, 2005) --- Sterling Marlin persevered through several trials and tribulations to bring home an eighth-place finish at the season opening...

Sterling Marlin Brings Home First Top-10 Finish of the Season at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 20, 2005) --- Sterling Marlin persevered through several trials and tribulations to bring home an eighth-place finish at the season opening Daytona 500. The eighth place finish gave Marlin his first top-10 finish of the season and placed him eighth in the points standings.

"The car drove really good today," Marlin said. "It got tight a few times on me, but we were able to make the necessary adjustments. I made some mistakes speeding down pit road and pitting when it was closed. That ending was pretty wild. Everybody was bumping and banging. It was some of the wildest driving I'd ever seen. I wish we could have got up there and mixed it up a little bit, but that was a good run for the first time out with the new Charger. I wish we could have won the first race with it, but we finished eighth and we were the top finishing Dodge, so we'll go to California and try it again next week."

Marlin qualified for the race in the 18th position but by lap five had already gained 10 spots and was running eighth. The first caution came out on lap 14 and Marlin, who was 11th at the time, reported that the car was "tight on the bottom." The Coors Light crew made a four tire and fuel stop and restarted 14th on lap 19.

The Coors Light Dodge continued to run well in the high groove and Marlin was able to run in the top 15, getting as high as sixth, for the next 42 laps. Crew Chief Steve Boyer called Marlin down pit road for a green-flag pit stop on lap 61. After a quick four tire and fuel stop Marlin sped off pit road and was assessed a pass-through penalty by NASCAR for excessive speed on pit road.

When Marlin returned to the track he was 30th. Marlin radioed that the car was really good as he worked his way up to 28th. When the third yellow flag waved, Marlin was running 28th and the Coors Light crew made another four tire and fuel stop.

Once racing resumed Marlin was able to draft his way through the field and was up to 24th when the caution came out for the fourth time. Marlin was reporting that the car was tight so the crew made an air pressure and wedge adjustment after putting on four fresh tires and adding fuel.

Marlin restarted 24th but quickly made a run through the field and got as high as 17th by lap 130. With 70 laps remaining, Marlin continued to let the crew know that the car was tight, so during the second green-flag pit stop the Coors Light crew made another slight air pressure and wedge adjustment before returning to the track 15th.

After another quick caution period the Silver Bullet restarted behind teammate Jamie McMurray in the 14th spot. The two made their way up to the ninth and tenth spot respectively within the first lap of the restart. Marlin got shuffled back some though and was 16th when the fifth caution came out on lap 154.

Marlin accidentally brought the car down pit road before it was open so the Coors Light crew put on four fresh tires and added fuel. Since Marlin would have to go to the tail end of the lead lap anyway, Boyer brought him back down to top off fuel on lap 156.

When racing resumed on lap 159 Marlin was 31st, but the Coors Light Dodge continued to battle and was able to gain four spots before another caution on lap 161. Marlin restarted 25th after a fuel-only pit stop, and Marlin continued to battle up to 20th when a multi-car accident happened on lap 184. With many cars sustaining damage Marlin was able to pull the car through and restart 18th on lap 188.

During the restart many cars checked up causing another multi-car accident. In order to avoid the crash, Marlin drove the Coors Light Dodge in the grass. However, no damage was sustained and the Silver Bullet restarted 13th on lap 195. In the final five laps Marlin was able to hang on and take the checkered in the eighth spot bringing home the first top-10 finish of the season.

Marlin starts the season eighth in the NEXTEL Cup championship points. Ganassi teammates Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray finished 26th and 32nd respectively.

The Coors Light team races at Fontana next weekend in the Auto Club 500. The race will be broadcast live on FOX television and MRN radio on Sunday, February 27th at 2:00 p.m. EST.

-cgr-

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