Dodge Motorsports weekend preview 2002-03-22

Marlin puts top 10 streak, points lead on the line at Bristol in Food City 500. BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 21, 2002) - Sterling Marlin, one of the proudest Volunteers in the state of Tennessee, will put his streak of eight straight top-10 finishes...

Marlin puts top 10 streak, points lead on the line at Bristol in Food City 500.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 21, 2002) - Sterling Marlin, one of the proudest Volunteers in the state of Tennessee, will put his streak of eight straight top-10 finishes and the NASCAR Winston Cup points lead on the line Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Marlin, a 44-year-old driver from Columbia, Tenn., has led the series standings since his second-place finish at Rockingham on Feb. 24, 2002. With two victories, a second, eighth and ninth place finish in five starts this season, Marlin's No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T has amassed a 99-point advantage over rookie Ryan Newman in the series standings. Combined with two runner-up finishes and a fifth to close the 2001 campaign, Marlin has not been out of top 10 territory since an 11th-place finish last fall at Rockingham.

He's the only driver with five top 10 finishes this season, one of three drivers to complete every lap in 2002 and is the only driver who has been ranked in the top 10 in the series standings since the 2001 Daytona 500, his first race behind the wheel of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T owned by Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates.

"It'd be nice to come through Bristol with another top 10 finish and then get a weekend off before going to Texas," Marlin said. "There's still plenty of racing left, and it's way too early to talk about points. It's nice to have the lead, but 99 points doesn't mean much. Heck, that could be wiped out before the Bristol race is half over. We're just going to bide our time and hopefully we'll be around at the end to give 'em a run for their money."

In other racing action involving Mopar power this weekend, the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series moves to Houston Raceway Park for the third annual Texas Shootout on Saturday and Sunday. Mark Kinser, driver of the Mopar-powered Maxim, will be trying for his seventh straight top five finish this season in that event.

Here is the weekend lineup for Dodge- and Mopar-backed cars and trucks: (All Times Eastern)

* Friday, March 22 - 3:05 p.m., NASCAR Winston Cup Qualifying for Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway for positions 1-43. Television broadcast begins on Fox Sports Net at 3:00 p.m.; Radio on PRN begins at 2:45 p.m.

* Saturday, March 23-24 - The Pennzoil World of Outlaws will hold the Texas Shootout at Houston Raceway Park. Radio broadcast on SCN Radio begins at 9:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Broadcast may be heard via Internet at www.sprintcarnet.com/

*       Saturday, March 23 - 11:15-Noon, NASCAR Winston Cup Happy
Hour Practice.  Televised (tape delay) on FX at 3 p.m.

* Sunday, March 24 - 1 p.m., Food City 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race. Television broadcast begins with pre-race show on Fox at 12:30 p.m.; Radio coverage begins at 1 p.m. on PRN.

*       Monday, March 25 - Pennzoil World of Outlaws takes to the
dirt track of Pike County Speedway in Magnolia, Miss.  Gates open at Noon.

NASCAR WINSTON CUP SERIES

Dodge leads the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit with three victories in the first five events. Marlin won last week at Darlington and earlier this season at Las Vegas, while Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T, got the Dodge ball rolling in February by winning NASCAR's Super Bowl event, the Daytona 500.

Marlin and Burton have boosted Dodge to a 36-31 advantage over Ford in the NASCAR Manufacturers Standings. Pontiac is third with 23 points and Chevrolet trails with 20.

"It's a long season, and we've got 31 races left," said Bill Tracy, Senior Manager Motorsports Operations - Dodge Motorsports. "It's too early to start buying tickets for the champions party at the Waldorf, but we're pleased with our teams' performance so far this season."

Marlin has never won at Bristol, a .533-mile high-banked oval and the fastest short track on the Winston Cup circuit. He has finished second twice in 35 starts, with four top fives and 12 top 10s.

"You just never know what to expect at Bristol," Marlin said. "I guess that's why the fans like it so much. I'd rather be lucky than good up there because so many things can happen. We're taking the same car we ran at Rockingham (qualified second and finished second). I think we'll be good if we can keep it in one piece."

Burton is the only other Dodge driver currently ranked in the top 10 in the Winston Cup Standings. The 40-year-old South Boston, Va., native has finished in the top 10 in four of his last six starts at Bristol and will be making his 17th career start at the track.

Tony Glover, team manager for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, is from Kingsport, Tenn., and is anxious to get back for some home cooking.

"I lived up there for 39 years, and it's a beautiful place to live," Glover said. "There's only one Winston Cup team up there, and if you want to be in Winston Cup Racing, then Mooresville (N.C.) is the place to be. I've been in racing for 28 years, and I was crew chief for my father, Gene Glover, when he won the Late Model Sportsman Series championship in 1979. My father will be at the race Sunday, so maybe he can give us a few pointers."

Mike Ford, crew chief for the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T driven by Bill Elliott, is also an Eastern Tennessee native. Ford is from nearby Morristown, Tenn., and first attended a Bristol race at age 10. His favorite driver back then? Who else, Bill Elliott.

PENNZOIL WORLD OF OUTLAWS

Fresh off three third-place finishes last week, Mark Kinser will try to restore some law and order to the Pennzoil World of Outlaw Series on Saturday and Sunday at Houston Raceway Park.

Kinser is the only Outlaw with six top five finishes in six starts this season. He's currently ranked third in the series standings with 995 points. Steve Kinser leads the way with two "A" feature wins and 1,006 points. Defending series champion Danny Lasoski has two "A" feature wins and 1,000 points.

"We've got the consistency down, now we're going to go for some wins," Kinser said. "We've been close. We just need a break or two along the way and we'll be in good shape. We've got a lot of racing left, but it's time to win a feature."

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , World of Outlaws
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Steve Kinser , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing