Sterling Marlin tames the 'Lady in Black'

For the second time this season, Sterling Marlin, driver of the No 40 Ganassi Racing Dodge, collected a win. It wasn't an easy win. Marlin had to start at the rear of the field after the team changed engines following Happy Hour. "The motor had...

For the second time this season, Sterling Marlin, driver of the No 40 Ganassi Racing Dodge, collected a win. It wasn't an easy win. Marlin had to start at the rear of the field after the team changed engines following Happy Hour.

"The motor had a bad lifter in it and we tried not to take a chance. We put another motor in and went to the rear," said Marlin. "We knew if we took our time we could work our way back up through there. We just took our time and eased up through there. Our car was really good on long runs."

Ryan Newman, third place qualifier, also started from the rear of the field. Newman was forced to a backup car after his No. 12 Penske Racing Ford cut a tire and hit the wall with less than two minutes remaining in Happy Hour. Newman worked his way to a fifth place finish and the highest finishing rookie.

This is more remarkable as Newman notes: "We didn't know how we were gonna start bringing a backup car out without any laps on the race track. Those were the first laps that race car had ever run, it was brand new."

Darlington is often called "the track too tough to tame." But Sunday's race left many wondering if the lapped cars were the problem and not the track.

After a six month absence, Steve Park made his return to the No. 33 DEI Chevrolet, ironically at the track where he suffered his injuries. After qualifying fourth, Park felt he had a solid shot at the win. Early on, he did. Park lead the race for 18 laps. But on lap 39 while making a move to put AJ Foyt's driver Stacy Compton's No 14 Pontiac a lap down, Park and Compton got together, spinning out the No. 1 Monte Carlo and collecting pole sitter Ricky Craven's No. 32 PPI Ford along the way. Both Park and Craven were out of further contention.

During green flag pitstops on lap 197, Roush Racing driver Kurt Busch spun as he slowed to enter the pits. The No. 11 Ford of Brett Bodine and the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge of Hut Stricklin collided as they checked up to miss the spinning No. 97 Ford of Busch. Many of the leaders already made their pit stops and found themselves trapped on the tail end of the lead lap. Jeff Gordon in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, found himself in the lead after the pit rotation.

With 74 laps to go, Tony Stewart passed Gordon, who led for 176 laps. Stewart attempted a pass the lapped Dodge of Petty Enterprises' Buckshot Jones on the inside when suddenly Jones' car cut loose and veered into Stewart's Home Depot sponsored Pontiac. Jimmy Spencer hit Stewart and melee broke out. In all, eleven cars were caught up in the accident.

Stewart was flown to a hospital in Florence, South Carolina for x-rays after he complained of pain in his abdomen, lower back and legs. All x-rays and CT scans came back negative. However, Stewart will be held overnight for observation due to lingering pain in his abdomen and back.

Note: In the top ten today there were four Fords, four Chevrolets, and two Dodges.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Steve Park , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Buckshot Jones , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Hut Stricklin , Stacy Compton , Ricky Craven
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports