Sterling Marlin transcript from Dodge Teleconference Tuesday, Feb. 22,2005 STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger) NOTE: Marlin finished eighth in the Daytona 500 to lead the way for all Dodge Charger drivers. Marlin, a ...
Sterling Marlin transcript from Dodge Teleconference
Tuesday, Feb. 22,2005
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Marlin finished eighth in the Daytona 500 to lead the way for all Dodge Charger drivers. Marlin, a 47-year-old driver from Franklin, Tenn., won back-to-back Daytona 500s in 1994 and '95. He's heading to California Speedway for Sunday's Auto Club 500 with three top-10 finishes in nine starts at the two-mile track.
YOU WON ALMOST AS MUCH MONEY WITH AN EIGHTH-PLACE FINISH IN THE 2005 DAYTONA 500 AS YOU DID WHEN YOU WON THE RACE IN 1995. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE SPORT?
"It shows how much the sport has really grown. I think we won $350,000 when we won it in 1995 and eighth place paid $341,000 the other day. The sport is taking off. We need to win it again and collect that million and a half."
WE'RE HEADING TO CALIFORNIA. WOULD YOU RATHER BE GOING TO ROCKINGHAM?
"For travel, logistics, yeah, I'd rather be going to Rockingham. I think a lot of people would because it gives them time to be home with their families after being in Daytona for a week and a half. A lot of guys drove back and forth from Charlotte to Rockingham. That's part of the schedule and I guess we'll just load up and go to California."
THIS WILL BE THE 10TH RACE IN CALIFORNIA. HOW DO YOU LIKE THE TRACK?
"I like it a lot. We've run good there at times. Last year we didn't really good at either race. We figured out what the problem was, but we had a really good test there. We tested about four different cars, and we had about two seconds difference between the four cars. The last car we ran was about half a second better than the car we thought was the best, so we found some stuff out and we need to build all our cars just like the car we finished testing with at California."
COMMENT ON YOUR DAYTONA 500 STRATEGY
"The car drove good all day. Something happened to the motor. After the first 50 laps it wouldn't suck up like it would. I made a mistake. I thought pit road was open and the guy said to pit. We had to go to the rear (because pit road was closed). Then we got caught for speeding and had to go to the rear. We had to come from the rear twice. It was kind of aggravating. I knew with 40 to go it was going to be pretty exciting. It was three wide. You just try to pick which lane to go with, and it was pretty hard getting through there. Our car didn't have it. It would take somebody behind my car to make it go. It wouldn't go by itself. I know when we got caught for speeding I came out of the pits behind Mark Martin and Dave Blaney. They drove off from me. I believe I was close enough to draft them, but we just couldn't get it to go. I don't know if something happened to the motor or what. It was the body or something. I don't know what it was, but once we got around cars it was pretty good."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW SPEEDING SYSTEM?
"It got us coming in pit road. You're coming off the track and gearing you car down, and it's hard to judge rpm's. If you're 100 rpm's over, it's hard to judge 100 rpm's in a racecar trying to watch where you're going and watch the tach and pitting with people, so there needs to be some leeway coming in the pits. Going out, no problem, but coming in the pits you get to wheel hopping and there's just a lot going on coming on pit road."
COMMENT ON RACING IN CANADA
"The Canadian fans are great, and I wondered when NASCAR would venture to Canada. There's a lot of Canadian fans in Michigan we get to see, and I think they're a big plus for us. They need to build a three-quarter mile or mile track in Canada somewhere. I guess I've raced around Toronto and raced out west one time -- maybe Calgary. All three times I've been it's been a big plus for us. There's a lot of fans."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE?
"We made a qualifying run and simulated what we could do to the car and the adjustments we'd need to make to start the race. Everybody's in the same boat. I think it may save a little money and cut down on Happy Hour and all the tires we use. I guess everybody will start out in race trim and get the cars balanced and throw some tape on the grille to qualify and go racing."
WHAT DID THE DAYTONA FINISH MEAN FOR TEAM MOMENTUM?
"I've always had the confidence. If I've got the car I can go. It drove good. Something happened to the motor. It wouldn't go on restarts. It took three or four laps to get wound up. We dodge a couple of wrecks. I started to go through Stewart and Johnson there one time, but I thought better of it. I thought they were starting to wreck each other. I sat tight. We ran third in the points in 2001 and in 2002 I think we ran seventh and eighth in the Daytona 500 those two years. In 2003 we got black flagged and last year we got caught up in a wreck. It's not impossible, but helps to get a top 10 coming out of Daytona. We've got a good speedway program, I think. It's really hard to qualify good, but we'll go to work and try to make them a little faster. The Chevrolets had the dominant car if you look at where they finished and laps led, so we've got to just work some more."
COMMENT ON GOALS FOR 2005
"The key for us is to make the car drive good. To be honest with you, last year the car didn't drive good a lot of times. We've just got to be smart and use common sense and make the cars drive good. The rest will take care of itself."
ANY SPECIAL FEELING KNOWING IT WAS RUSTY'S AND MARK'S LAST DAYTONA 500?
"No, not really. I saw 'em before the race and told them to have a good race. It's a little weird thinking it was their last Daytona 500, but I'm sure we'll see them. I passed Rusty one time and we were about three deep. I got to Mark and I went with Stewart and Johnson. They got to beating and banging or I think we might could have finished fifth or sixth if I could have got clear of them two."
COMMENT ON THE RACING IN DAYTONA 500?
"It was nuts. Restrictor-plate racing, if you run all day long and if you haven't had cautions to thin 'em out, with 40 to go it's just a mad house. Everybody is chopping each other off. Ryan Newman hit me going in three and I about wrecked. I'm meaning to have a little conversation with him about it. It darn near took out about 10 of us. It was just wild. They had the big wreck in three and four and took out I don't know how many. We were lucky to get through it. It was just typical restrictor plate racing when you get 'em all bunched up with a few laps to go something is going to happen."
WHAT POINT WOULD YOU MAKE TO RYAN NEWMAN?
"The point is don't run into me going into the corner. I don't care down the straightaway, but you can't be hitting somebody going into the corner. He was lucky he didn't wreck a lot of us."
ARE YOU GOING TO TALK TO NEWMAN?
"I imagine I will."
WAS THIS ROUGHER THAN A NORMAL DAYTONA 500?
"I'd say it was more nuts than ever. If you were up front it might not have been as crazy, but at the time we'd got the penalty and had to start in the rear. We had to come through everything. It looked like they were running Martinsville bouncing off each other. I knew it was going to happen. You didn't know when, but you had to be on your toes for when it did happen."
WAS THE DAYTONA EXPERIENCE BIGGER THAN EVER?
"I've been going there a long time, but it seems like every time you go it's always bigger and better. The purse always gets bigger and there's always more people. They built a really good garage area with the fan deal so the fans can check everything out. It's really tough for the crew guys because they've got to push the car all the way down to the back side of the garage area. They need to address it somehow, but it was all pretty neat."
TALK ABOUT RACING AT CALIFORNIA
"It's a two-groove, three-groove track. For some reason it didn't take California long to get like Kansas and Chicago, to get the groove worked in. The first couple of races and we were already three wide through the corners. It's a handling track. You've got to be right on the edge of being loose all day to make the cars go fast. If you get tight coming off the corners it really kills your speed when you've got to lift. You can't get back on the gas. You need a good body on the car and a lot of power."
IT WAS SO WINDY WHEN YOU TESTED AT CALIFORNIA. WAS THAT A TRUE TEST?
"You could run through one and two, but the wind was really blowing hard off turn four. It would push the car around from the middle of the corner out. We learned some things. We learned our best racecar wasn't the one we thought, so it helped us testing."