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 STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: PENNSYLVANIA 500 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 Pocono: "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.