Dodge Motorsports weekend preview 2002-04-18

Stricklin will carry Dodge, Alabama Gang banner into action at Talladega on Sunday. TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 18, 2002) - Hut Stricklin, the last Winston Cup member of racing's famous Alabama Gang, hopes it's his time to shine in the Aaron's 499 ...

Stricklin will carry Dodge, Alabama Gang banner into action at Talladega on Sunday.

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 18, 2002) - Hut Stricklin, the last Winston Cup member of racing's famous Alabama Gang, hopes it's his time to shine in the Aaron's 499 NASCAR event Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Fresh off a season-best 15th place finish last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, Stricklin will be riding tall in the saddle of the No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T when the circuit lines up for qualifying on Friday at Talladega. The 40-year-old Calera, Ala., native expects family and friends to be on hand when he circles the 2.66-mile track in his Bill Davis-owned Intrepid, and he doesn't plan to disappoint them.

"The last three or four weeks we've had good race cars, but we hadn't been able to put together decent finishes," Stricklin said. "Our finishes haven't been equated with how we've been racing until last Sunday at Martinsville. I think the whole team is getting better every week, and that finish should really help pump up everybody heading to Talladega."

The only other racing action involving Dodge-powered teams this weekend also will take place in Alabama when the Pennzoil World of Outlaw Series heads to Talladega Short Track for a doubleheader on Friday and Saturday.

Mark Kinser, driver of the Mopar-powered Maxim, will enter this weekend's event atop the Outlaw standings. Kinser has stretched his advantage to 21 points over Steve Kinser after 12 events.

TV, RADIO RACING SCHEDULE

* Friday, April 19, 2002 - NASCAR Winston Cup qualifying. Tape delayed at 7 p.m. on TV-FX. MRN Radio live at 3:05 p.m.

* Saturday, April 20, 2002 - NASCAR Winston Cup Happy Hour TV-FX 1 p.m .

* Sunday, April 21, 2002 - NASCAR Winston Cup Aaron's 499. TV-Fox 2 p.m.; Pre-race TV show, 1:30 p.m. MRN radio pre-race show 1:30 p.m. MRN radio race live 2 p.m. (all times eastern)

NASCAR Winston Cup Series

Sterling Marlin has watched his lead over second-place Matt Kenseth dwindle the past two weeks. Marlin, 44-year-old driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T owned by Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates, enjoyed a 99-point advantage over Kenseth after Bristol on March 24, 2002. Marlin then finished seventh at Texas and 12th last week at Martinsville, while Kenseth won at Texas and finished second at Martinsville. Consequently, Marlin lost 72 points to Kenseth and now holds a 27-point lead after eight of 36 events in 2002.

"Kenseth has had a couple of real good runs, and it looks like he's going to be there all season," Marlin said. "We've just got to keep working hard and start finishing in the top five more consistently. I like racing at Talladega, but you never know what's going to happen. You could be leading on the white flag lap and end up 15th. We'll just have to get in a good qualifying lap on Friday, find a safe place to run in the race and hope we miss the big one if it comes."

In 38 career starts at Talladega, Marlin has two victories and 14 top 10s.

Stricklin has 18 starts at Talladega with a best finish of ninth in 1990. A top 10 finish on Sunday is the top priority for the first-year Dodge driver.

"Bill (car owner Davis) is pretty pumped up after last week. His cars finished 14th (Ward Burton) and 15th at Martinsville," Stricklin said. "I'm sure he'd rather that be first and second, but we're getting there.

"We're taking the same Dodge to Talladega that we had in Daytona, and people are probably going to ask why since we didn't make the Daytona 500. Our car was fast at Daytona in all the practices. We just had a brake problem in the 125s and that killed us. We missed getting in by one spot, but I don't think that's going to be a problem at Talladega.

"We've got to qualify well, but I think the car will be good in the race. I like the track, and it's fun to drive, but I don't like racing anywhere you're at the mercy of the car. The way the rules are now, it's 98 percent car and the rest is the driver at Talladega. I'm just not a big restrictor plate fan, but I can't come up with anything better to slow down the cars.

"We've got to get in the field, but that's the only reason qualifying is important at Talladega. The guys who qualify up front might be running in the back after 10 laps and the guys starting in the back might be up to the front after 10 laps. We're just going to try to run smart and be there at the end. That's what counts."

Pennzoil World of Outlaws

Mark Kinser will be going after his third win and 11th top 10 finish in 13 starts this season in the World of Outlaws event at Talladega Short Track. Kinser also has nine top fives and will attempt to stretch his advantage over two-time 2002 winner Steve Kinser. Dave Lasoski ranks third in the standings with three wins, 28 points behind Mark Kinser.

Kinser leads with 1,878 points, followed by Steve Kinser at 1,857 and Lasoski at 1,850.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , World of Outlaws
Drivers Ward Burton , Matt Kenseth , Sterling Marlin , Hut Stricklin , Mark Kinser , Steve Kinser , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates