Sonoma: Sterling Marlin race summary

Coors Original Dodge falls out of race early in Sonoma. Marlin remains first in the Winston Cup championship points race. SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 2002) - Sterling Marlin's No. 40 Coors Original Dodge Intrepid R/T fell out of the Dodge/Save Mart...

Coors Original Dodge falls out of race early in Sonoma.
Marlin remains first in the Winston Cup championship points race.

SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 2002) - Sterling Marlin's No. 40 Coors Original Dodge Intrepid R/T fell out of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 early with a blown motor. But, for the 15th straight race, Marlin remains the leader in the NASCAR Winston Cup championship points standings; he has a 62-point lead over Mark Martin in second place.

Marlin started the 110-lap road-course event in 34th position. On lap 5, Marlin said he felt the power steering fade. By lap 11, the team had to pull the car into the garage to work on the car. After changing the water pump fan and four tires, the Coors Original Dodge went back out on the track, nine laps down.

On lap 28, Marlin had to bring the No. 40 Dodge in and retire for the day due to a blown motor. The team finished in 43rd position and only ran 19 laps of the event.

"The 30 car ran through a bunch of rocks and I guess some of them got under the belt," Marlin said after getting out of the 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.

"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."

Tony Santanicola, engine specialist for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, explained the damage to the engine in the No. 40 car.

"The rocks kicked the water pump belt off," Santanicola said. "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 them."

Marlin remains first in the Winston Cup points lead but he lost ground on second place.

"We've been due to have a little bad luck," Marlin said about the past few races. "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."

Next on the schedule for the No. 40 Coors Original team is the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2002.

-cgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Sterling Marlin , Jimmie Johnson , Chip Ganassi , Mark Martin
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing