STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) "It was a pretty smooth day. I knew yesterday evening we had a pretty good car. It was real good on long runs yesterday evening. We could run 31 flats, 31.10s lap after lap. All...
(No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"It was a pretty smooth day. I knew yesterday evening we had a pretty good car. It was real good on long runs yesterday evening. We could run 31 flats, 31.10s lap after lap. All these guys gave me a great car. This car has run top five every time we've run it and it's won two. My hats off to these guys. We ran it in Kansas the other day, and they got it home Monday about lunch. They flipped it and was painted Monday night about 12 o'clock. They bolted it back together. We knew coming here we'd have a good car. This is the best we qualified. Somebody said riding home that we qualified 13th. That's an unlucky number. Well, Earnhardt qualified 13th a lot and about every time he qualified 13th, he won. So, it came true today. "Right before the race started, I was wondering why we were so late, Felix told me what had happened. I thought about all our men and women overseas. I hope they're all OK. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We'll go in there and kick them guys butts. "The NASCAR posse got us. We were going to take the American flag. I was going to make a lap around the track with it. I guess they thought we were going to do something with the car or whatever. At least we got to carry it from the front straightaway back to victory lane. We were just going to try to make a lap with the American flag. That's all we were going to try to do, what Dale Jr. did at Dover. From what went on this morning, and show support overseas and the armed forces over here at home. "It'd take us about 15 laps, depending on the set of tires. We got a set that was just a little bit loose, and I had to baby the car and wait on it. Tony's car was starting to get a little tighter when mine was starting to get just right, and we could really reel him in about a tenth or two tenths a lap. "It seems like here at Charlotte we always had a caution with 20 laps to go or 25. That happened to us this spring. We had about a third-place car and had a late caution and someone got into us and knocked us back to about 15th. I caught the 7 car and he was starting to smoke a little bit with about 25 to go. I said, 'man, don't let him blow up.' But he ran the rest of the way and our car was so good on long runs, but it scared me that a caution would come out with 10 to go and everybody would have dived in and got tires, and it would have been hard to hold them off. "I didn't tell Lee and Tony but with about 100 to go, the car got to vibrating pretty bad through the corners. I thought it might have been tires, but I never said nothing. We changed tires and everything was fine. You're just sitting there hoping that there's not a caution. We had such a lead. We didn't want to give it up. "I've raced Winston Cup a long time, and when you know you've got a good car you just take your time and don't press the issue. Like Tony who was trying to pass somebody. I was behind him. They were racing him hard. A few of these guys don't realize that when you race like that you slow yourself down about a second a lap. Whoever it was on the outside of Tony kept racing him. Tony was loose, and I just backed off and gave him a couple of car lengths. I knew if I drove up under Tony it would make him loose trying to get by. I let Tony get by and finally I got by and three or four laps later I passed Tony. There wasn't any pressure on me. You just use your head and don't tear up nothing. "We started practice yesterday evening, and the way the points are set up when we took off down pit road, you're with good cars. They got away from me a little bit. We made a 20 or 25-lap run and they stretched out on me, but after 25 laps I caught some good cars and was running Tony down and just felt like we had a good car for the long run. Tony was quick on the restarts, but when you start third or fourth on the restart, it's hard to work the traffic and the leader can get gone. Tony really worked the traffic well when he was leading. He stretch out there 20 or 30 car lengths and it would take me awhile to run him down. "I've been close to winning some here before. I think I won a Busch race here and two or three Winston Opens. I ran second in The Winston two or three times, second in the 600 and some top fives. I guess back in the late 80s we had a pretty dominant car and blew a tire and hit the fence. I've always enjoyed racing here at Charlotte. It's a track where if somebody is holding you up on the bottom, you can pass on the high side in three and four. There's room to race. "As a kid, I came here with my dad in about 1971 and went up in these concrete grandstands out there. That's when Charlie Glotzbach was running the 3 car. We was hung on the outside watching them practice. I think I was 10 or 11 and it opened my eyes up. I had never been to many big race tracks. I had always run good here and had been close, but we never did close the deal on it."