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NASCAR Winston Cup Pennsylvania 500 Preview -- #4, Sterling Marlin

16 July 1997

 #4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo          
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Pennsylvania 500
 Pocono Raceway 


LONG POND, PA - Sterling Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team head 
to the 2.5-mile Pocono (Pa.) International Raceway this week, still looking 
to shake a season filled with the luck of a thousand broken mirrors. 
Seventeenth in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, the team still stands well 
within shot of the top 10 of the points, 180 points out of 10th with 15 races 
remaining. At an average of 12 points per event (which represents the 
difference of as little as two positions in a single event), Marlin would be 
right in the thick of the battle for the top 10.

Five weeks ago, Marlin came back from a 28th starting position to finish 15th 
at Pocono. After a 17th-place the following week at Michigan and engine 
failure relegating him to a 36th-place finish the next week at California, 
Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film team fought back from 41st place and a lap 
down at Daytona Beach, Fla., to finish third.

The luck has been horrendous. At Darlington, S.C., in the spring, a 
screwdriver left on another car shot through Marlin's radiator, costing the 
team 15 laps in the pits - the Kodak Gold Film team finished 22nd, 15 laps 
down. At Pocono the first time, a ground hog caused a quick, massive power 
failure at the track - right in the middle of Marlin's second-round 
qualifying run - and the team was left to let the engine and tires cool some, 
then try to qualify again. Twice this season the car has hit track debris 
within the first 10 laps of a race, costing it laps in the pits.

The thoughts of Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin going into 

"You run out of good luck charms after awhile. Four leaf clover. Those little 
Buddhas you can buy in the import stores. Throwing salt over your left 
shoulder, right shoulder or somebody else's shoulder. What else can you do?

"I'm afraid to hold a mirror. I don't know I could stand seven years of this. 
I'm the guy in my neighborhood passing a petition around to ban ladders, just 
in case I walk under one. I avoid cats altogether, just in case a black one 
has been painted white or something. Hey, and this is from a guy who has 
never believed in luck - good or bad. At least, I haven't until this year.

"You just start wondering after awhile. The last time we were at Pocono, some 
groundhog decided to take a stroll - during my qualifying lap. Now, what are 
the odds of that? You always hear about deer at Pocono, but groundhogs? At 
Pocono, we get our radiator speared with a screwdriver. Now, this isn't a 
screwdriver that got left on a car going through inspection or something. 
This is on the second round of pit stops. What kind of deal is that? Maybe 
once in a lifetime, you end up running over a small piece of debris that 
everybody has missed. But we've done it twice in 16 races - and both times 
right at the start of the race.

"I've run out of things to think and things to do. I still believe you make 
your own luck but I really have to wonder. Whatever is causing this, it just 
never seems to go away.

"Now that doesn't mean we've given up. I'd say we're working harder now than 
we were, and we were working pretty hard before. We're just re-checking and 
double-checking and triple-checking everything we do, and then going back and 
checking it again. Whatever these gremlins are, we're going to give them as 
little chance as we can to bother us anymore.

"We still have our sights set on a strong run the second half of this season. 
There are 15 races left this year and this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team is 
capable of winning any of them. You go back and take away those times the bad 
luck has cost us and we've had some pretty good cars at a lot of places. We 
ran good in both Daytonas, had as good a car as anybody at Darlington, were a 
really good car at Texas, led the race on seven cylinders at Bristol, had a 
strong car at Charlotte, and came from nowhere to finish 10th at Dover with a 
good car. My point is we've had some good runs this year. We think we can 
shake the bad luck and have some good finishes to go with them in the second 
half of this year.

"Pocono is one of those places we feel we can do well. We missed the setup 
for pole qualifying at Pocono last time but came back the second day and had 
the fifth best time overall - even after going back out a second time because 
of the groundhog deal. The handling went away at the wrong time during the 
race and we finished 15th but we felt we could have had a better finish, and 
feel we can this time there.

"Our goals the rest of the year are simple. We want to win a race or two and 
finish in the top 10 of the points. We feel we can do both. We feel very 
capable of doing both. This is a winning race team and, outside of the bad 
luck, nothing has changed that. We're confident and we feel like a lot of 
people are going to sit up and take notice of this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet 
before the year is out."

By Williams Company of America, Inc.