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NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 400 Preview -- #4, Sterling Marlin

1 July 1997

 #4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Pepsi 400 Advance
 Daytona International Speedway
       Defending race winner is "Starting a new season at Daytona"

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - There have been better yearly starts for Sterling Marlin 
and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team. Still, they head to Daytona 
International Speedway this week for Saturday's Pepsi 400, mathematically not 
but historically the kickoff race for the second half of the NASCAR Winston 
Cup season.

For a team that's gone through everything from a screwdriver through the 
radiator to a groundhog killing the clock and ending a qualifying run, the 
Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team is remarkably positive. And why not? No one 
has shown more in restrictor plate races in the 1990's than Morgan-McClure 
Motorsports and engine builder Runt Pittman.

Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team have won three of the last 
seven races at Daytona, including two Daytons 500s. At NASCAR's other 
restrictor plate track, Talladega (Ala.) SuperSpeedway, they have won two of 
the last four races. No other team's record compares. For example, virtually 
written off by some pundits after qualifying problems in this year's Daytona 
500, the team roared back to finish fifth.

Marlin turns 40 on June 30, just five days before the Pepsi 400. The 
Columbia, Tenn., native is 11th in career money winnings among NASCAR Winston 
Cup drivers.

The thoughts of Sterling Marlin heading into Daytona:

"You have to kind of figure the place for us to turn things around is 
Daytona. Since I got with this team they've been really good on the 
restrictor plate tracks, and they were really good before I got here. We've 
run pretty well. Sometimes circumstances haven't gone our way and sometimes 
our luck hasn't been the best, but when everybody unloads at Daytona on 
Thursday, you have to kind of figure they'll still be looking over at the 
Kodak Gold Film team and wondering what we have.

"The first part of the season has been pretty rough. Some things we couldn't 
control. I mean, what are you going to do when somebody leaves a screwdriver 
on a race car and it falls off and shoots through your radiator? What are you 
going to do when a groundhog figures our qualifying lap at Pocono would be a 
great time to take a stroll? I mean, I do my best not to get upset over 
circumstances I can't control and that nobody can control.

"I don't know what we ran over in Dover on the first lap but that put us two 
laps down spinning out, limping back to the pits and changing tires. I could 
have sat there and beat on the steering wheel all day - and that's five hours 
of steering-wheel-beating when you run 500 miles at that place - or we could 
just do what we did. We just figured we'd do the best we could with what we 
had to work with, and we finished 10th. That's been our third-best finish so 

"That's why we can't get out-of-control upset with what we've done so far 
this season. Sure, nobody is particularly happy about it but instead of 
spending a few hours each day pointing fingers, everybody is just working 
that much harder. We're going to lose this monkey off our backs sooner or 
later and, when that time comes, we'll start being a factor again.

"I figure Daytona is the best place to throw the monkey but not necessarily 
for the reason you might think. I figure it's the best place because it's the 
next place we run. Sure, Runt (Pittman, engine builder) and the boys are good 
at Daytona - really good. But they are pretty good everywhere, and I think 
that's going to start showing here pretty soon. We're looking at the second 
half as a brand new season. If we have a good 'year' the second half of 1997, 
maybe we can get back up there in the points, pick up a win or two and a 
couple of poles. That's more what we're used to.

"Daytona is more of a combination of driver and team than just about anywhere 
we race. The car has to be great, no question. The engine has to be nearly 
perfect. The body of the car has to be nearly perfect, too, because 
aerodynamics play such a big role. The driver has to drive smart. You have to 
know when to stay in line and know when to go.

"Believe me, it's hard to be patient at 200 miles per hour but you have to 
be. You have to rate the reward of passing somebody to the risk of pulling 
out, losing the draft and dropping back 15 positions. You have to do that in 
the blink of an eye too. It has to be instinctive. Think about it for two 
seconds and not only is your chance to pass gone, but you might be gone too.

"We're planning on being up there at the front. It's time we got back on 
track and got our season underway. I hate we waited this long but maybe we'll 
able to tell some guys at the end of the year we just gave them a head start."

By Williams Company of America, Inc.