Sonoma: Dodge Motorsports midrace notes

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Original Dodge Intrepid R/T) "The 30 car ran through a bunch of rocks and I guess some of them got under the belt. It kicked the belt off and got the motor hot. The team worked their guts out this weekend, but we ...

STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Original Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"The 30 car ran through a bunch of rocks and I guess some of them got under the belt. It kicked the belt off and got the motor hot. The team worked their guts out this weekend, but we hadn't hit on much. I think we had a pretty good car. We changed some stuff this morning, but we didn't get to run many laps. We had gained a few spots, and I think we had a top 10 car.

"We lost the power steering. I tried to drive it four or five laps, and I looked down and the water temperature was real hot. It kicked the belt off of it and I couldn't drive it and then it burned up the motor.

"You're going to have a bad day. We're going to Daytona and we'll probably start off dead even again. We've had a good first half. We've got two different tracks scheduled for tests next week. We've got 20 races to go, and we'll get with it. It's a weird season. We haven't had many top finishes the past few weeks. Jeff has had trouble a few times. Everybody kinda has. The season kicks off again in July at Daytona and we'll be ready to go.

"We lost the power steering about lap four. We ran along for awhile and I just let some guys go because I couldn't drive the car. The oil temperature was about 250 and the water temperature was about 210. I came by the next lap and the water was about 250. It just burned up the motor.

"You hate to see anybody have trouble, but you have to take the good with the bad in the points race. We've been due to have a little bad luck. We had it today, so maybe it's over with. We'll start back from square one when we get back to Daytona. You're not sure how it's going to shake out today until everybody finishes. We had a pretty good lead over everybody except Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Jeff is having trouble, so who knows how it's going to turn out. We'll take this beating and keep on ticking."

TONY SANTANICOLA (Engine Builder Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates h Dodge Intrepid R/Ts with drivers Sterling Marlin and Jimmy Spencer)

"The rocks kicked the water pump belt off. The water pump belt drives the power steering and the alternator and the water pump. Sterling just thought there was something wrong with the power steering. He didn't know the water pump belt was off. When he ran those other six laps it just cooked the motor. If he had come in that lap, it probably would have been OK, but there's no way for him to know that. There's no way for him to know that the water pump wasn't turning until it got hot. Once it damages it, those things don't heal like a person. They don't get better. All the damage is done. When he went back out, it scuffed a piston and it just gets worse and worse. It'll last about 2-10 laps. I knew he was coming back in. Our engines are real good, but you've got to keep the belts on 'em."

BOB WILDBERGER (Senior Manager, NASCAR Operations - Dodge Motorsports)

"We have to recognize that Sterling and his team have been in the points lead since the second race of the year. The way this race is shaking out, he's probably going to remain in the points lead. They had a really bad turn at this race, but you've got to look at the track record of the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Dodge team. They've been up front race in and race out with the reliability the likes of no one else on the track. They've had one race with misfortune and it looks like they're going to keep that points lead. I've got all the confidence in the world that they're going to keep on digging when they come out of here and work as hard as ever to build that points lead again. Dodge has a lot of confidence in that team. I'm still hoping to write that check (million dollar bonus from Dodge to any Dodge team that wins NASCAR Winston Cup championship, along with a 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 to the winning driver). Sterling said he wanted a charcoal gray if he wins the Viper, but I suggested he might want to let his wife have a say in that so that he could keep peace at home.

"We're proud of the Dodge program so far, but we've got to realize that we're still young. We haven't gotten to midway of our second season yet. We've got three wins this year and we've got a team that's been first in points since the second race of the year, and Ward Burton led the standings after winning the Daytona 500. We're proud of what everyone is doing, but on the other side of that, we're still on a learning curve. We've got to remember that and keep digging. We're still working as one team. Dodge engineering staff has been assembled under one roof under the PVO organization. That's going to be very strong. We continue to work closer and closer together.

"Bill Elliott has been running strong and is running well today. John Andretti is looking good, and I wouldn't count Jerry Nadeau out. Jerry raced for us in road racing a few years ago and did a good job, so it'd be great to see him do well today."

DODGE GARAGE NOTES - Dodge/Save Mart 350k grand marshal Mario Andretti rode in the Viper Red 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 pace car today on the driver parade lap. DaimlerChrysler Corporation Vice President Steven Landry drove the pace car. Dodge will introduce the 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 to the automotive media this week in Sonoma, Calif.

-dodge-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Bill Elliott , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Jerry Nadeau , Jimmie Johnson , Mario Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing