STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger) NOTE: Marlin will start 25th in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Marlin's last victory came in 2002 at LVMS. He kicked off the 2002 season with two wins in the...
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Marlin will start 25th in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Marlin's last victory came in 2002 at LVMS. He kicked off the 2002 season with two wins in the month of March -- a win in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and one in the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway. Marlin captured the championship points lead at the second race of the season and stayed there for 25 weeks straight. Following an accident at Kansas Speedway, Marlin was sidelined for the remainder of the season due to a fractured C2 vertebra. He finished 18th in championship points with car owner Chip Ganassi although he missed the last six races of the 2002 season. Marlin says he's ready to end his 98-race winless streak on Sunday.
"There's not a lot of difference here now than when I won the race in 2002. It feels like the track might have lost some grip, but we've got a new aero package to contend with, too. I guess the spoiler is two inches shorter than it was then, and we've got different tires to figure out. We've got a new car, so we've got some things to work on. There's a lot of give-up here. It's kinda like Darlington and Rockingham with the give-up. It's hard to pass here and it gets strung out. Track position is going to be the key, but then it's the key just about everywhere we go now."
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WIN AGAIN?
"We've got to have good pit stops. We had a good car at California, but the pit stops killed us. It seemed like we restarted 20th every time. I think I can still win. There's no doubt in my mind. I guess most people think you've got to be 22 to drive a Cup car now. I think that's a crock. We could have won a couple of races last year. We should have won the first Michigan race. We had a shot to win Talladega. We didn't have to stop for fuel and them rookies didn't know how to pit and we got wrecked. It took us out."
COMMENT ON THE YOUNG DRIVERS
"Some of them are good, but nowadays it ain't their fault. It ain't nobody's fault the way it is. Somebody's got their eye on somebody and they throw them in a Cup car. Kurt Busch skipped Busch racing and he's been real impressive. Obviously, he's the defending series champion. I think some of them need two or three years of Busch racing so they can work their way up to Cup. They never had to do it like we had to do it. There just wasn't that many good rides when I was coming up. We had to beg and plead before anyone would let us drive. It was like, 'let me drive for nothing and I'll show you I can do it.' My big break was driving for Hoss Ellington. My dad (Coo Coo Marlin) was big friends with him and he gave me a break and let me drive his car. We went to Daytona, and I qualified third. I was going to run third in the race and something happened to the motor."
YOU AND RUSTY WALLACE ARE BOTH 47 AND BOTH OF YOU ARE OFF TO A GREAT START RANKED IN THE TOP 10.
"It's important to get a good start. Rusty has two 10th-place finishes, and we finished eighth at Daytona and 15th at California, but we easily had a top-10 car and maybe a top-five car. We've had some rough starts lately. In 2003 we got black-flagged at Daytona and got caught in a wreck in 2004. Last year we were 10th in the points at the first Bristol, but then everything just went wrong. Everything that could go wrong went wrong the rest of the year."
STEVE BOYER IS YOUR NEW CREW CHIEF. HOW'S THAT GOING?
"I enjoy working with him a lot. He's really organized. I'm pressed with him. Tony Glover still calls the shots on race day."
HOW MUCH LONGER WOULD YOU LIKE TO DRIVE?
"I'd like to run a couple more years. Chip said something about us talking about the future. I've just got to get with him and sit down and see what he wants to do. I'd like to get something worked out by May or June. We need to get our ducks in a row. A few people have walked up and asked me when my deal's up with Chip, but I like where I'm at. If I can stay here, I'll stay here."
DO YOU THINK A VICTORY WOULD HELP NEGOTIATIONS?
"Winning helps everything. We know we've got a team that's capable of winning in this series. If we can get a break here and there and not lose ground in the pits, we can win. Like I said, there's no doubt in my mind that I can still get the job done. We've just got to get everything working right and go out and do it."