No Worries About Qualifying, Marlin Feeling Upbeat for Martinsville MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 27, 2007)--With his No. 14 team in the top 35 in owner points entering this weekend's Nextel Cup event at Martinsville Speedway, driver Sterling Marlin...
No Worries About Qualifying, Marlin Feeling Upbeat for Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 27, 2007)--With his No. 14 team in the top 35 in owner points entering this weekend's Nextel Cup event at Martinsville Speedway, driver Sterling Marlin says the next goal for the Ginn Racing crew is to remain there.
Below, Marlin answers questions about his place in owner point standings, the Car of Tomorrow and what he expects this weekend at Martinsville.
Q. How does it feel to be in the top 35 in owner points and not have to worry about racing your way in each week?
A. It's a big weight lifted off everyone's shoulders. When you enter race weekend the number one goal is to win on Sunday -- that's the only thing that's natural to us. So to come to the track each week and have to think about Friday (qualifying session) before you can start thinking about Sunday is frustrating.
Our next goal is toremain in the top 35 by consistently being competitive each week. Now we can come out and start focusing on making the Panasonic Chevrolet fast for the race. It's a big relief.
Q. Because of some bad luck at the end of the 2006 season, this is the first time you won't have to qualify for a race on speed since Texas last November. What are your thoughts on that?
A. I'm thankful we made all the events we weren't locked in to and that we can put it behind us now. We have to focus on being competitiveand avoiding trouble so that we can climb through the point standings.
Q. Of all the drivers who had to qualify for each of the first five events on speed, you were the only one who made all five races. What does that say about this race team?
A. It just shows what a strong, smart group of people we have working under the hood of this Panasonic Chevy. Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) has made great calls and everyone on the team has done an outstanding job of putting fast race cars beneath me. It's a credit to everyone--not just the guys who are here on the weekends but to all the people back at the shop who work on this No. 14 Chevy.
Q. You had a 14th-place finish at Martinsville last spring and were closing in on a top 10 last fall when NASCAR brought you down pit road and you ended up 21st. How do you think your Panasonic team will perform in this weekend's Goody's Cool Orange 500?
A. I've had some good runs at Martinsville Speedway in the past--including the last couple of times we were there. Last fall we had driven from the back to the front and were looking at a top 10 when NASCAR made us come down pit road because they said something was hanging off the bumper of the car. But when we got to the pits, there was nothing there. So that was pretty frustrating.
But I've always liked Martinsville andknow Ginn Racing brings good cars there, so I think when the green flag drops we should be able to collect a good finish.
Q. Sunday's event is another Car of Tomorrow race. What do you think of the new car?
A. It's hard to base too much off what we saw at Bristol since that's a track where aerodynamics has virtually no effect. I think when we get to some bigger tracks we'll be able to make a better assessment.
I don't like them as much as the traditional ones, but NASCAR is going to make us drive them so we have to figure out a way to be competitive. The bottom line is, the change is being made, so we have to go along with it. But I still think they're funny looking.
Last spring at Martinsville Speedway
Marlin started last spring's event from the sixth spot and fought an ultra-loose racecar to take home a 14th-place finish.
(Last event at Bristol Motor Speedway March 25)
Marlin started the 500-lap event 21st. Despite the Waste Management Chevrolet being both tight and loose at times during the Food City 500, Marlin was able to stay out of trouble and finish 30th. He also secured a spot in the top 35 in 2007 owner point standings.