Dodge Motorsports weekend review 2002-09-03

Marlin finishes fourth at Darlington, maintains lead; Elliott finishes third, moves to seventh in standings. DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 2, 2002) - Sterling Marlin led early and often in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race on...

Marlin finishes fourth at Darlington, maintains lead; Elliott finishes third, moves to seventh in standings.

DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 2, 2002) - Sterling Marlin led early and often in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race on Sunday at Darlington Raceway, but the 45-year-old Tennessee native faded to fourth at the end of the 367-lap race at the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.

Marlin led four times for 113 laps in his No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T and continues to lead the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings for the 24th straight race, but another No. 24 is getting Marlin's attention.

Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet won his second straight race, gained 20 points on Marlin and moved into second place, 91 points behind Marlin with 11 races remaining. Gordon led 125 of the final 128 laps and rolled to a 1.734-second victory over runner-up Ryan Newman in a Ford.

Bill Elliott's No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T led the way for Dodge with a third-place finish. Elliott led twice for 43 laps and moved up a notch in the standings to seventh. Elliott has scored 11 top-10 finishes and 15 top-15 finishes this season. He was ranked 14th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings after 25 races last year.

The circuit heads to Richmond, Va., for the final short track race of the season and the final race under the lights in 2002. Elliott has scored one victory and 15 top10 finishes in 41 races at Richmond. He has scored only two top-10 finishes in his last 17 races at Richmond. Elliott started 37th and finished 17th in last year's fall race at the .750-mile track, and he finished 14th there in May.

Marlin has scored 14 top-10 finishes in 25 races this season and 19 top-15 finishes. He is also the only driver to remain in the top 10 in the point standings since the Daytona 500 in 2001. Marlin was ranked third in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings after 25 races one year ago. Marlin has not scored a top-10 finish in his last five races at Richmond.

He has competed in 33 races at the Virginia short-track, scoring just eight top-10 finishes. His best Richmond finish, fourth, occurred in this race in 1999. He started third and finished 32nd in this race one year ago and finished 11th there in May.

Ward Burton, the 2001 Mountain Dew Southern 500 winner, finished sixth at Darlington, giving Dodge three of the top six finishers. Burton's No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T moved to 25th in the series standings.

Ford continues to lead the Winston Cup manufacturers standings with 166 points and eight victories. Chevy is second with 144 points and seven wins, followed by Dodge with 127 points and six triumphs. Pontiac has 113 points and four wins.

Other Dodge finishes in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 were:

* KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T) 13th
* JIMMY SPENCER (No. 41 Target Dodge Intrepid R/T) 18th
* JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T) 20th
* KENNY WALLACE (No. 23 Hills Bros Coffee Dodge Intrepid R/T) 25th
* TED MUSGRAVE (No. 07 Kenwood/Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T) 27th
* CASEY ATWOOD (No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T) 28th
* JERRY NADEAU (No. 44 Georgia Pacific/Brawny Dodge Intrepid R/T) 41st
* JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Intrepid R/T) 42nd

NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series

Dean Skuza and the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T are on a roll. Following a final-round appearance during Sunday's $100,000 Budweiser Shootout, the Brecksville, Ohio, resident drove to his fourth semifinal in the last five NHRA events during Monday's 48th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind.

Skuza was finally bitten by a gremlin in his semifinal match with Tommy Johnson, Jr.; as he smoked the tires out of the box and never recovered.

"We haven't made an A to B run out of the box most of the weekend," Skuza said."There is something wrong with this car, and we don't quite know what to do with it. We're going to Atlanta next weekend for the Mopar Nationals, and it will be a perfect place for us to test and figure out what's wrong with this car."

Skuza gained a little revenge on Bud Shootout winner Ron Capps in the first round. Capps smoked the tires and Skuza drove through to a 5.162-second elapsed time at 257.09 mph. Despite popping a blower and sending the burst panel spiraling; Skuza beat Tony Pedregon in round two with a 5.162-second lap at 257.09 mph. Pedregon smoked the tires and logged a 5.239/258.76 combination.

Gene Wilson lost a close matchup with Greg Anderson in the second round of eliminations Monday. The 29-year-old Mopar-backed rookie collected a 6.947-elapsed time at 200.05 mph, but it wasn't enough to overcome Anderson's slightly quicker 6.943-second pass at 200.02 mph.

"We're happy with what we did this weekend," Wilson said."Greg just had a .419 light and I had a .454. We have a good race car and have good horsepower. The whole crew is doing an excellent job setting these cars up. We'll go to the next race and see what happens."

Wilson made it to the second round by defeating George Marnell in round one. Wilson ran a 6.942-second elapsed time 199.02 mph; while Marnell posted a 6.961/6.942 combination.

Greg Stanfield, driver of the Hemi-powered DBP Motorsports Dodge Neon R/T, fell in the first round of eliminations to Jeg Coughlin, Jr. The Bossier City, La., resident, who was making his inaugural Pro Stock run at the U.S. Nationals, managed a 6.957-second lap at 198.99 mph. It wasn't quick enough to stave off 6.931/199.05 effort.

"I think the track was actually bad," Stanfield said." We saw a lot of cars that had great 60-foot times. I think what's hurting us is track experience. We seem to run well when the track conditions are good, but really struggle when the conditions are poor. And there's no excuse for me being late on the tree."

Pennzoil World of Outlaws

Although visits to victory lane have been few and far between for Mark Kinser this season, one can never count him out of a Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series race. The two-time series champion took a big first step toward claiming his first Harvest Classic title Friday by winning the First Preliminary Feature at Calistoga Speedway in Calistoga, Calif.

Kinser started outside the front row in his No. 5M Mopar-powered Maxim and held off his cousin, series points leader Steve Kinser, throughout the 25-lap race for his fourth Preliminary Feature victory of the year.

Mark Kinser took the checkered flag eight car-lengths ahead of cousin Steve. Mark Kinser finished second behind Tim Shaffer on Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway, and he finished eighth in the 30-lap A feature on Sunday to remain fifth in the series standings after 54 starts.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NHRA , World of Outlaws
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Jeg Coughlin , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Ron Capps , Greg Anderson , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Tim Shaffer , Mark Kinser , Gene Wilson , Steve Kinser , Greg Stanfield , George Marnell