NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA 400 Preview: #4, Sterling Marlin
17 September 1997
#4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA 400 Advance Dover Downs International Speedway STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: MBNA 400 DOVER, DE - The Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet and driver Sterling Marlin return to the site of one of their gutsiest performances of 1997 this week. Even under the shroud of unbelievably bad luck that has covered the team virtually all season, the team will be considered among the favorites for the 400-mile event. In June, the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet clipped a piece of debris on the first lap of the race, sending the car into the pits for a tire change under green flag conditions. Even with a lightning-fast pit stop, Marlin still lost two laps in the pits while the rest of the field continued at the 25-second-lap one-mile, high-banked oval. Refusing the surrender to misfortune, the team ran strong all day and continued its fantastic pit stops. Even though never able to regain the lost laps, the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet finished 10th in the spring race. Marlin, team manager Larry McClure and crew chief Robert Larkins lead the team back to the "Monster Mile," hoping for a repeat of the performance and a non-repeat of the luck. The team has already announced Bobby Hamilton will take the wheel of the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet for the 1998 season, while Marlin will move to another NASCAR team. The team has dedicated itself to pulling itself from the mires of "bad luck" before the year is out. The thoughts of Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin heading into Dover: "The race at Dover in June was as good an example as you'll see of how the year has gone for us. I don't think anybody had a better car than this Kodak Gold Film bunch and anybody who paid attention to how the race played out could see that. First lap, I mean first lap, I ran over something I guess and the tire starts going down. That's nobody's fault. I never did figure out what I hit and I guess nobody else saw it either because not a single other car in the race reported debris back to their pits. Who knows what it was? I just know it was probably sharp and I definitely hate it, whatever it was. "What it was doesn't mean anything anyway. The important thing is what we were able to do after it happened. I guess it'd been pretty easy to throw in the towel and figure the day was over, and that we didn't have a chance to do much of anything. But nobody did. I drove as hard as I've driven. The boys in the pits worked as hard as they've worked. Everybody worked hard and worked together and, while it didn't end up with some 'movie story' type ending, we came home with a top 10. That's pretty impressive to me. "You have to remember that you can lose two laps at Dover by just blinking. We had to come in the pits, change tires and get back out there. So losing just two laps was pretty remarkable. And we didn't gain anything with it either. It's not like we got off synch, which could have been the case if we'd run, say, 30 laps before we pitted. Shoot, we were one lap off everybody else. So we spotted the field two laps from the get-go. To come back from that and get what we got says a lot, a whole lot. "Because of the way we ran, we feel pretty good about getting back to Dover. We know we can run good there. We've proven it to ourselves with what we did in June, and we've proven it to a lot of people who were watching it. Maybe the fans didn't see it; they were probably too busy watching a lot of those boys play bumper cars the last part of the race. But the people who know what's going on saw it, believe me. Everybody on this Kodak Gold Film team saw it, remembers it and knows what it could mean Sunday this week. "Dover's no piece of cake. It can be one mean race track. There is plenty that can happen there and usually everything that does happen happens pretty quick. Shoot, I've seen slow-motion replays from Dover that looked like they were running at 78 rpm. There is nothing graceful and dainty about what you have to do there. You just power your way down the straights and hope for the best in the turns. "These cars really slam into the first and third turns. That really gives you some G-forces as you move on through them. The straights are banked a good bit too, so you're looking at the race track cockeyed almost the entire lap. You run a whole race at Dover and you have a hard time standing up straight for the next couple of days. Your whole body leans to the left. The track turns you part of the way there and the G-forces turn you the rest of the way. "It's tough but I think we've proven we can do pretty well there. The way this season's gone for us, we need some good breaks and a good finish could mean a lot for us. That good finish could come this week. I think we've shown what we can do there." By Williams Company of America, Inc.