A Q & A with Sterling Marlin Veteran Driver Looks to Continue Record of Early Success with a New Team DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2006) - Since an eighth-place finish in his first Daytona 500 start in 1980, Sterling Marlin has enjoyed a ...
A Q & A with Sterling Marlin
Veteran Driver Looks to Continue Record of Early Success with a New Team
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2006) - Since an eighth-place finish in his first Daytona 500 start in 1980, Sterling Marlin has enjoyed a history of success when he joins a new race team. His first of two Daytona 500 wins came in his maiden race with the No. 4 Morgan-McClure team in 1994.
One of three drivers with back-to-back Daytona 500 wins,Marlin has collected 11 top-10 finishes in 4 starts in NASCAR's biggest race,five of which occurred with a new team.
Now, heading into his first race with MB2 Motorsports, the veteran driver talks about his expectations with his new No. 14 Waste Management Chevrolet team and being a firsthand witness to NASCAR's rapid growth.
Q. You seem to come out of the gate strong with a new team. You gave the Morgan-McClure team a huge lift in your first appearance with them by winning the Daytona 500 in 1994. You also had some other strong Daytona 500 finishes with new teams.
Marlin: Looking back, it seems like every time I go to a new team we run well in the Daytona 500. When I went to Junior's (Johnson) team in 1991 we finished second in the 500 and then I went to Bill Stavola's team in 1993 and finished seventh at Daytona. The following year I went over to the No. 4 Kodak car (Morgan-McClure) and won the Daytona 500 -- a great thrill that will always stick with me. I also had a good 500 finish the first year with Chip Ganassi (seventh in 2001) and had a top-10 finish (eighth) in my first Daytona 500 in 1980. Yeah, I guess you could say I like coming out of the gate strong and hopefully it will be the same with my new MB2/Waste Management ride.
Q. What are you looking to achieve on the Nextel Cup circuit in 2006?
Marlin: Hopefully we'll be able to win two or three races and be competitive every week. I think it's a realistic goal. It'd be great to be in the top 10 at the end of the year and be able to contend for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. But winning races and being consistent is what's important. If you can do that, everything else will fall into place.
Q. Are there any specific races you're looking forward to?
Marlin: I'm excited about all the races this year, but MB2 has such a good superspeedway program that I'd be crazy not to be looking ahead to those events, especially the Daytona 500. It'd be pretty neat to go to Daytona and get a win. Last year I finished eighth in the (Daytona) 500 and now with MB2's superspeedway reputation the new combination could produce a great result in the season opener.
Q. What attracted you to MB2 Motorsports?
Marlin: I still have some unfinished business as a driver and that's why I am really excited about joining MB2 Motorsports. They're a team on the rise and I am thrilled to have this opportunity. MB2 has great people, great equipment and a great sponsor in Waste Management. I'm looking forward to working with (crew chief) Doug Randolph and (general manager) Jay Frye and everyone in the organization.
Q. This season marks the 30th Anniversary of your first Cup start. What are your thoughts on that?
Marlin: I hadn't really thought about it to be honest. May of 1976 at Nashville was my first Cup start so I guess that's right. I'm amazed I'm still around and have been running that long. When you've been messing with racecars like I've been doing since I was 12 or 13-years-old, time flies. Racing is my life and I'm still having a blast.
Q. The last time you drove a car with the No. 14 on it was in 1980. What's your feeling about having the No. 14 again and the family history that goes with it?
Marlin: I think it's real cool. I've had a lot of success with it. It was my dad's number and my football number in high school when I played quarterback. And then I drove the No. 14 car when we won races at Nashville. When my dad quit racing Cup, A.J. (Foyt) got the number and I thought we'd never see it again. But eventually it all shook out and it was available for us this year. I'm really glad to get it.
Q. This is the second time you have teamed with Nemechek -- how do you get along with Joe and can you help each other?
Marlin: Joe and I got along really well when we drove for Felix (Sabates). I think teaming up with Joe and Ryan (Pemberton, No. 01 crew chief) will be a good deal. They've won a couple of poles and a race so hopefully we'll be able to work together and help each other to be successful. Joe's a super nice guy with a lot of talent so I look forward to seeing what we can do together next year.
Q. What would you say is your biggest racing accomplishment?
Marlin: Probably winning the Daytona 500 twice. It was my first career win and then I came back and won it again the next year. That was a pretty neat deal for me.
Q. What about racing disappointments?
Marlin: Breaking my neck in 2002. I was leading the points most of that season and then I got hurt at Kansas and didn't get to finish the year. There were only six races left and we were right there in the hunt for the championship. That was pretty disappointing for me.
Q. NASCAR has changed drastically in 30 years. What do you miss the most? Are there things you think are better now?
Marlin: The money's a lot better now than what it used to be--a whole lot better, that's for sure. But the 70s and 80s were more laid back -- a lot simpler then. You were just there to race. It wasn't the rushing or the panic mode that everyone seems to be in now. But it's all good. I never thought the sport would grow to where it is today in popularity.
Q. What about safety?
Marlin: NASCAR's done a great job making new rules and testing things out that make it safer for drivers. The soft walls and the Hans device make it a lot safer for us compared to what it used to be.
Q. If you were a fan, who would be your favorite drivers?
Marlin: I've never really thought about it. You have different personalities out there and I respect drivers for a lot of different reasons. I'm friends with many of the guys, but I guess I'd say Mark Martin or someone like that.
Q. Outside of racing what do you enjoy doing?
Marlin: Just hanging out really. We've got a good bit of land back home and we're developing some so I spend a lot of time clearing property. Working--that's what I enjoy doing. That and spending time with my family.
Q. Talk about your fascination with the Civil War and the artifacts you collect.
Marlin: Where I was born and raised (Columbia, Tenn.) there's a lot of history. You could go about a mile down the road from my house and find areas where the soldiers camped during the war. You would use metal detectors and find buckles and buttons from their uniforms -- things like that. The road that runs from Nashville to Alabama was the main road so the soldiers were always traveling that area during the war.
Q. Have you ever hunted for Civil War artifacts anywhere else?
Marlin: Oh yeah. I've gone to Richmond and into North Carolina near Wilmington to hunt. But it's getting harder and harder to find stuff because a lot of people have been doing this for many years. But it's a pretty cool thing to hunt for artifacts.
Q. They say you're the No. 1 University of Tennessee football fan. Can the Vols rebound in 2006?
Marlin:I sure hope so. The expectations were high before the season, but it just didn't work out. No question, it was a disappointing season and it drove me crazy. But they'll come back -- I know they will.
Q. Doug Randolph is a graduate of UT and a big Vols fan too. When was the last time you had a crew chief who was a native Tennessean?
Marlin: Tony Glover was from Tennessee so he was a big UT fan too. Now I have Doug to share my pain with when they have a bad season. Hopefully they won't have another season like last year.
Q. What are your thoughts on Doug?
Marlin: Doug's a great guy and very capable. I worked with him back at Junior's (Johnson) in 1991 and 1992. He's done a good job of working his way through the ranks and getting to where he now is. We got along well then and still do today. I'm looking forward to having a good year together and think he and I have the chemistry to be successful.