Daytona notes

Marlin Scores Comeback Pepsi 400 Victory at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 6) -- Sterling Marlin, who has become NASCAR Winston Cup racing's "dominator" on the tracks requiring carburetor restrictor plates, scored a comeback victory in...

Marlin Scores Comeback Pepsi 400 Victory at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 6) -- Sterling Marlin, who has become NASCAR Winston Cup racing's "dominator" on the tracks requiring carburetor restrictor plates, scored a comeback victory in the rain-shortened Pepsi 400 Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. Marlin, who fell from the lead to 16th in less than one lap when the primary ignition system on his Kodak Film Chevrolet failed on lap 66, worked his way back to the front without drafting help and regained the lead only 21 laps later. The two-time Daytona 500 winner, who led 57 of 65 laps before the problem, led the final 31 tours of the 2.5-mile trioval before an onrushing rain storm caused the race to be put under its fourth caution flag on lap 117 of a scheduled 160. The event was red-flagged less than one lap later and after approximately 45 minutes it was called when it was apparent the rain would not clear in time to complete the event. "I just had a sinking feeling when it quit, because I thought the engine had blown," said Marlin, who suffered an engine failure at almost the same spot while leading the Daytona 500. "It turned out the ignition system shorted-out. Going through turn three I switched ignition boxes, put it in third gear and bumped the clutch out. It started back up and I figured we were back in business then." "Our car was working real good running low up off the corners," Marlin said, summing up his charge to his third restrictor plate victory in the last four races held at Daytona and Talladega -- where five of his six career victories have come. "I just worked guys a couple laps and then I passed 'em." Marlin beat Terry Labonte's Kellogg's Chevrolet to the final caution by about three car lengths to claim an event record $106,565 from the $1.6 million purse. Defending Pepsi 400 winner Jeff Gordon in the DuPont Chevy nipped Dale Earnhardt's Goodwrench Service Chevy for third. A fast-closing Ernie Irvan was fifth in the Texaco Havoline Ford. The victory once again proved the restrictor plate savvy shown by Morgan-McClure Racing's engine builder Shelton "Runt" Pittman. Pittman-tuned engines have won eight of the last 17 plate races -- five with Marlin and the other three in another three-of-four string by Irvan in 1992-93. Marlin himself has led 33 percent of all laps run in the Pepsi 400s and Daytona 500s over the last three years (six races). "I guess it shows how strong he is when three cars couldn't run him down," said Gordon of his attempt, along with Earnhardt and Labonte, to catch the fleeing Tennessean. "We got our five bonus points (for leading a lap) but that's about it." A NASCAR oval track record 28 cars finished on the lead lap after 292.5 miles were completed. It broke the mark of 22 set at Pocono Raceway in July of 1990. Earnhardt left Daytona with a scant five point lead over Labonte in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. That enabled Earnhardt to claim the $50,000 mid-season Gatorade Front Runner Award. Gordon is 37 points behind Earnhardt in third in the closest three-man point race, at mid-season, in history. "I had about a fourth or fifth place car -- the 4 (Marlin) was in a class by itself," said Daytona's career victories leader Earnhardt of his failure to win his third Pepsi 400. "Three of us couldn't handle him and I don't know if anyone could've!" The next event at Daytona will be the Daytona IMSA Three- Hour Finale Oct. 4-6. It will be the season-closer for the International Motor Sports Association's Exxon World SportsCar Championship, Exxon Supreme GT Series and IMSA Endurance Championship for volume-produced sports cars. PEPSI 400 NOTES: NASCAR announced following the Pepsi 400 that the cars of Johnny Benson Jr. (Pontiac), Ernie Irvan (Ford) and Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) had been impounded for a wind tunnel test. Bill Elliott got out of his McDonald's Ford under the third caution on lap 101 for relief driver Derrike Cope. "I told Mike (Beam, crew chief) that if we could somebody to get in to let him go ahead and get in," said Elliott, who had lost a number of laps prior to that due to overheating. "It's a hot day and I was just trying to get used to everything. We really didn't have anything to gain and I would have a lot to lose if something were to happen." Dave Marcis was raring to go for me after finishing his 800th start two laps down. "We're ready for 801 at Loudon," he said. "It was just another day at the job. I might make 900 starts -- you never can tell. That's not a goal, but it wouldn't surprise me if I did it." John Andretti was disgusted with what he considered to be a questionable move by Dale Jarrett to trigger a seven-car melee that brought out the third caution on lap 101. "You'd think a two-time Daytona 500 winner would know better, or at least not make a four-foot mistake," Andretti said bluntly after the accident that involved Andretti, Jarrett, Dick Trickle, Robert Pressley, Ernie Irvan, Greg Sacks and Kenny Wallace, at least. "He (Jarrett) made us three-wide in the trioval and then pulled up on me and slammed into me. He shoved me into Dick Trickle and then drove off. His crew told me he said his spotter told him he was clear, but it's still the responsibility of the driver, and he was a good four feet shy of clear. It's a real shame. Jarrett, for his part, had no comment before rushing off to a NASCAR Busch Series race in Milwaukee save to say "I don't have any comment except that I was just making a pass." Trickle was also rushing off to Milwaukee and wasn't available.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Dick Trickle , Kenny Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Johnny Benson , Dave Marcis , Greg Sacks