STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Marlin is one of five drivers eligible for the Winston No Bull 5 Million Dollar Bonus in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It's the first time...
STERLING MARLIN (No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin is one of five drivers eligible for the Winston No Bull 5 Million Dollar Bonus in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It's the first time Marlin has participated in the No Bull 5 and the first time a Dodge has been part of the deal. Marlin, a 43-year-old Tennessee native, will be driving for Colyn Jones of Marbury, Ala. Marlin will race Dodge Intrepid R/T chassis No. 105 in the Coca-Cola 600. It's been Marlin's workhorse so far this season with starts at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Darlington, Texas and California and finishes of 35th, third, fifth, 34th and ninth, respectively. Marlin ranks fifth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings, 138 points behind leader Dale Jarrett.
"I think the No Bull 5 is a neat deal. I'd sure like to win a million dollars, and I know those five fans with a chance to win will be relieved when they finally drop that green flag on Sunday. I guess it's kind of like Who Wants to be a Millionaire without having to answer all the questions and the drivers are the only lifelines. I hope we can win that million so somebody can go to the house real happy Sunday night.
"We didn't learn a whole lot in The Winston Open last Saturday night. I guess the main thing we learned was to try not to get run over. I like Charlotte, but the track changes so much it's hard to hit the right setup. The track changes from hour to hour. The guys that guess on the right setup and hit the right combination will be tough.
"It seems like when you think you're going to be good at Charlotte, you're bad. When you think you're going to be bad, sometimes you're good. I think we're going to be good, but it depends on the weather, too. If we practice in 85-degree heat, and it's 60 degrees when we start the race, things will be a whole lot different.
"I think it's supposed to be cooler this weekend, but everybody is going to be in the same boat. The track will be tight, and you've just got to build in adjustments with the setup for a tight track. I like the track. Turns one and two are basically one groove, but three and four have about three grooves. You can run up high, in the middle or on the bottom. You know the car is going to tighten up, so you've just got to be ready to make the adjustments.
"Tony Glover (team manager) and Lee McCall (crew chief) will have things ready to roll. Tony and Lee work good together. Tony is on the radio to me during the race, but we don't talk much. I really don't like anyone talking to me that much. I'll run about 30 laps and tell 91em how the car is working. Then we'll come in and pit a little later and they'll be ready to make the adjustments.
"We'd really like to win at Charlotte. We've been close this season, and Dodge has been close. We won a 125 at Daytona, but that's not a points race. All 10 Dodge drivers want to be the first to win a points race. That's the one everyone will remember. If we won a million dollars at the same time, that would make it even more special.
"We're basically a new team this year. Things have changed a whole lot since Chip Ganassi bought the team. I guess the main change is we're getting the Dodge engines from Ernie Elliott and his guys. We've been at the right place at the right time most of the time this season. A few times, we got caught when we were somewhere we shouldn't have been, but that's part of racing.
"The guys in the fab shop have been doing a great job. They can change things on the body in a day instead of a week or saying it can't be changed. That's really helped a lot. We're 138 points behind the leader right now, and that's not too bad. I think we're a solid top five team. We've just got to keep working. We can't let up. The motor guys and fab guys and everybody have just got to keep digging.
"Me and Tony and Lee have got to keep getting the chassis better. I just tell them how the car drives, and then they'll change this or that. Sometimes they change this when they should have changed that, but it doesn't happen that way very often.
"Steadman (20-year-old son) had a pretty good run going last week in the ARCA race at Charlotte. He was running in the top 10 and had some engine problems. He's coming back this week to try to qualify for the Busch race. I just hope he makes it. His motor is a little better in the Busch car, but the chassis isn't as good as his ARCA car. He's run two ARCA races and two Busch races, and he's really just trying to get some seat time. I'm trying to get him some sponsors plugged in. I think it would be good for him to run a full ARCA schedule next year and then work his way up to Busch full-time.
"There's no need to hurry these kids. Unless you're the next Jeff Gordon and you've got Ray Evernham to work with you, you can wait and get some experience before you try to move up to Winston Cup. I try to help Steadman out as much as I can, but I really don't like being his crew chief. That's worse than driving. I guess it's just hard to tell somebody younger what to do in a race car even if he's your son.
"When my dad worked with me, we didn't have radios, so he didn't talk to me during the race. Things are just a lot different now than when I was coming up. It's a lot more competitive these days. Some of the young drivers are winning and running good, but they're with strong, established teams.
"Experience really means a lot for the drivers and the crew. We're going to get plenty of experience this season with that 20-race stretch coming up. That'll separate the men from the boys. Some of the young guys might be up for it more than some of the veterans and some might not be. Team organization is going to play a big role in that deal. I think we're pretty organized now and we're going to keep getting better. Hopefully we can win a race or two pretty soon. Sunday at Charlotte would be a great time to start as far as I'm concerned."