Martinsville: Sterling Marlin race report

Marlin Beats the Heat to Take Home Third Top-10 Finish of the Season MARTINSVILLE, V.A. (April 18, 2004) --- Sterling Marlin battled back from pit stop mistakes to finish ninth in the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway. "We...

Marlin Beats the Heat to Take Home Third Top-10 Finish of the Season

MARTINSVILLE, V.A. (April 18, 2004) --- Sterling Marlin battled back from pit stop mistakes to finish ninth in the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

"We didn't have good pit stops today," Marlin said. "We'd come in second and go out sixth and come in sixth and go out ninth or 10th. We passed Rusty most of the day, and he won the race. That red flag didn't hurt us or help us. We've just got to work on these pit stops."

After qualifying 18th, Marlin quickly started to work his way through the field. By lap 119, when the third caution came out, the Coors Light Dodge was running eighth. Marlin told his crew chief that he had started off a little tight but that he needed more grip in the front and back. Marlin brought the Coors Light Dodge down pit road for a four tire, fuel and air pressure adjustment pit stop. When the race restarted on lap 129 the Coors Light Dodge was 10th.

The Coors Light Dodge was slowly working its way through the top 10 cars and was up to sixth when the next caution came out on lap 160. Marlin reported that the car needed no adjustments so the Coors Light crew made a four tire and fuel pit stop.

Marlin continued to battle over the next 100 laps and was running sixth when the caution came out on lap 269. Marlin radioed that the car was really loose so the Coors Light crew made air pressure and wedge adjustments. The Coors Light Dodge gained a spot on pit road and restarted the race fifth on lap 277.

On lap 291, the race was red flagged when a pothole developed in turn 3. NASCAR and track officials worked for one hour and 17 minutes to repair the track. When the race was delayed Marlin and the Coors Light Dodge were sitting behind teammate Jamie McMurray in the fourth spot. When the race was resumed on lap 302 Jeff Gordon was forced to pit due to damage sustained before the red flag and Marlin restarted third.

Marlin dropped to fourth on lap 307, but was able to pass the eventual race winner Rusty Wallace to take over the third position on lap 335 . Marlin moved up another spot on lap 362 and was running second to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Ten laps later the yellow flag waved and Marlin again reported that the car was loose. Marlin brought the Coors Light Dodge down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment but due to a slow pit stop, Marlin lost four spots and restarted the race sixth. Marlin was able to keep the Coors Light Dodge in the top-10 for the remaining laps and settled for a ninth place finish for the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Marlin remains 14th in the NEXTEL Cup championship points just 48 points out of the top 10. Ganassi teammates Jamie McMurray and Casey Mears finished seventh and 37th respectively.

The Coors Light team races at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend. The Aaron's 499 will be broadcast live on FOX and MRN radio on Sunday, April 25th.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Casey Mears , Jamie McMurray