STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) "It's fast, but I think once we get a race in it'll be OK. The first race after they paved Atlanta, it was terrible, one groove. It looked like the second groove in one and two came in...
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It's fast, but I think once we get a race in it'll be OK. The first race after they paved Atlanta, it was terrible, one groove. It looked like the second groove in one and two came in pretty good yesterday. We'll be OK. It'll take 10 laps to get the rubber back on the track. When we tire tested, it was a real green track. When we came back to practice, you could see a lot better groove than when we left. We ran a lot of long runs when we tire tested, so I think we might have the upper hand there a little bit, but there again, the track has changed since we tire tested. I think everybody will be in the same boat and have to make some adjustments on pit stops early.
"We've been going over some stuff for next week. We went to Greenville (S.C.) this week and tested (for Martinsville). We're just going over notes and trying to be prepared.
"It's fast, but Bristol to me has more of a sensation for speed than here. I don't think we'll have any trouble with tires. The Busch cars looked good yesterday. We tire tested and ran several different compounds. We did see a tire that got in the cords, but it was just stuff they were trying. I think Goodyear has done a good job coming back with a good tire. It hooked up pretty good for qualifying. It took five or six laps to get going when we were tire testing. These stickers were pretty quick.
"You're hardly ever off the throttle here. You're wide open just about the whole time. The track has got so much grip. It's fast, but if you go somewhere like Rockingham or Darlington or Charlotte, the pace slows down a second or a second and a half and you're hunting grooves up against the wall, in the middle and on the bottom. That's not going to happen here. Everybody will be fighting for the bottom groove. You're going to have to time your passes right to get 'em up off the corner. If you get 'em caught right in the center, the car is probably going to push. The slower cars will be on the bottom and you've got to get on the high side to pass 'em.
"I don't (think the speeds are too fast here). Let 'em eat. Let 'em do something else (if they think it's too fast). It's fast, but when everybody is running that fast and that close together, it's hard to pass. You go to a place like Rockingham and run 15 laps. If somebody is holding you up on the bottom, you just pass 'em on the outside. Then you go up against the fence and pass 'em. That's not going to happen here. Everybody is so close. We qualified 20th, and after Bill ran, we were two tenths off the pole. That's nothing. With everybody that fast and that close together, it's going to be hard to pass. We started pretty close to last last year. We had to use a spot to get in and we got up to fifth. It can be done. If they get loose you get a nose up under 'em and drive under 'em and go on. If they're tight, you time it where they have to get off the gas up off the corner and get your timing right and get down. Four is a little bit better. Two is a corner where the transition falls off quick. If you're going to get tight, you get tight more off two than off four. This car hasn't lost yet, knock on wood. We just copied the chassis 115 from last year, the body and everything. We carried it to Vegas and won and won with it at Darlington. We went to California to test with another, 205, and it matched up good with 115. I think we've got three good race cars. We know the car can win races. We've just got to get the shocks and springs and sway bars on it to make it good enough to win. Chassis 115 hadn't ever finished out of the top five, and we took it to Atlanta this year and ran ninth with it. We were a little off with the chassis all day. You've got to have the right stuff up under it, too.
"I'm not worried about the engine. We're running about 8,700 rpm's. It looks like the pace is going to slow down a little bit from what we saw with the Busch cars. For some reason our motors run real good around 8,700.
"We're running good and we've got a good race team. You try to dodge everything at Bristol. Me and Mark Martin got together on the straightaway and cut a tire down. He came up and apologized. He said he didn't mean to do it. It's just a deal where you go to Bristol and sometimes you're going to get together with somebody and sometimes you're not. I got together with Benson and I thought he was going to let me go. I got under him going into turn one and he came under me and came down and turned me around. You've just got to have give and take at Bristol. A lot can happen at places like that.
"California is going to be pretty good. It's two grooves, especially in one and two. They had just run the IRL race out there and had a lot of rubber on the track. We're testing about the same as we always have. We were in Greenville last week for Martinsville. We're going to Watkins Glen and Pocono. We might go to Nashville or back to Greenville to save our NASCAR tests. I think I just need a little work up at Watkins Glen, probably me more than anything else. I just don't like the damn things, but you've got to run 'em (road races).
"The track is fine. We ran 30-lap runs and ran in the 28s the whole time. I don't know if anybody will fall out of the seat. It depends on how much you've been working out. You play golf., you can't hold up I guess. I always stay pretty active. I run five or six miles a week. Sometimes I don't and sometimes I do. I'm not going to run the Boston Marathon. It don't pay nothing.
"We led the points last year one race. I think we went all the way back to seventh and came back to third. We got a taste of what fighting for a championship was last year. Over the winter we looked at the deal. I didn't realize it, but we fell out of five races. Five races we finished 32nd on back. If we could have taken three of them and got 'em back, we would have been right on Jeff's heals. I hope 19th is going to be our worst finish this year, probably not, but hopefully it can be. We'll just try to look at where we made mistakes last year and try not to make 'em this year. I like being up there (in point standings). We've got some guys chasing us and it looks like Jeff is having a tough year. He ran real good last year. Tony is running real good every race, but he fell out of Daytona and wrecked at Darlington. He'll be back to the front. We're just going to go each week and try to win the race. If we get to October at Charlotte and we're still leading the points, I think we've got a good shot to win if we get that far. We've got a lot of races to go yet.
"You watch the Busch cars and usually where they can run we can run. I was watching Steadman run, too, but it looks like the second lane in one and two came in. We went out the other day after Busch practice, and when we tested here, it looked like there was just one groove on the bottom. I saw it as a groove and a half, and after the Busch race, I thought it would be two grooves. We'll be fine.
"We were in Las Vegas and qualified 24th. When you qualify you can put the shocks on to hold the car down and be real aggressive. If you get a good lap you get a good speed. We weren't real aggressive with the shocks and qualified 24th. We practice decent, but we came in Sunday morning and talked to old Glove (Tony Glover, team manager) and Lee (crew chief McCall). I thought we had a top 10 car. We weren't right.. We put our heads together and made some adjustments on it. We started the race and it was flawless.
"We went to Darlington and qualified 11th. It ran good all week. We didn't hardly touch it. You've got to keep looking and try to find your speed. I was hoping we could have run Happy Hour yesterday, but we tested that car here, so we put the same springs and camber and stiffer rear springs up a little. It's hard to say without Happy Hour, but I do know where we were testing. I think we'll be right there.
"Playing football or whatever (I try to keep my cool). One time in an overtime game I got pretty tight. We won. I scored, but I got a couple of my ribs kicked out after I scored. I kept the ball and ran it in from about 20 yards out. I barely got in. A guy knocked me out in the opposing grandstand. The game was over, but it liked to kill me. I got kicked in the ribs. The hadn't been beat and we hadn't been beat, so it was a pretty good game. I've just been around a long time in a lot of different situations. I've done it enough not to get too excited anyway."