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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Hanes 500 Preview: #4, Sterling Marlin

23 September 1997

 #4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Hanes 500 Advance
 Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA - With the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup season winding
down, Sterling Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team are still
seeking to end the year on a high note. Bad luck and a low standing in
the Winston Cup points have plagued the team this season. With new
driver Bobby Hamilton coming to the team in 1998, Marlin hopes to
leave the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team after a strong season finish.

The team has won at least one race each season in the 1990's, a feat
that is matched only by Richard Childress (Dale Earnhardt); Rick
Hendrick (Terry Labonte's current team); Roger Penske (Rusty Wallace);
and Robert Yates (Ernie Irvan's current team). Morgan-McClure
Motorsports' six wins with Marlin since the beginning of the 1994
season include two Daytona 500's.

Marlin, team manager Larry McClure, crew chief Robert Larkins and the
Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet crew have dedicated themselves to pulling
the team from the mires of "bad luck" and finishing the season on a
high note, and with the streak of winning seasons intact. Though 26th
in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, the team is 157 points behind
20th-place Darrell Waltrip, and still has its sights set on moving
back into the top 20.

The thoughts of Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin
heading into Martinsville:

"To me, Martinsville has always been the start of the end of the
year. It's even more that way this year since the race is a week later
than it usually is. It got moved when North Wilkesboro came off the
schedule to the week just before Charlotte. It used to be you'd go to
Martinsville and see the leaves just starting to change, then go to
North Wilkesboro and see them changing, and then at Charlotte, they'd
be changing again. You'd take a week off and go to Rockingham, and
it'd start getting danged cold at night. Then a trip out west - in
recent years, that was Phoenix - and then finish up with Atlanta.

"There's kind of a quirk in the schedule now. Martinsville is a week
later, North Wilkesboro has gone away and Talladega has moved into the
mix there.  It's changed things but Martinsville is still kind of the
start of the end of the year.

"It's a tough track. You've got to be alert and you've got to be ready
because just about anything can happen there. I've seen guys hit the
wall there when it looked like it was for no reason at all. And I've
had the wall wave at me a few times, too, even reach out and grab me
and pull me in. Let me tell you.  Those big ol' walls can really give
you a lick if you hit them right.

"Half the deal at Martinsville is staying out of trouble. You try not
to make anybody mad at you. You try not to get mad at anybody
else. And you try not to fool yourself into thinking you're
invisible. I've heard a lot of people talking about 'racing the
racetrack,' and that's probably a pretty good thing to do at most
places. You race the race track at Martinsville, though, and you're
going to find yourself in that grass inside the turns or going down
the straightaways backwards.

"I remember the old county fair Daddy'd take us to when we were
kids. Man, as soon as we walked through the gate, every one of us
would go as hard as we could to the bumper cars. Well, Martinsville's
a lot like those bumper cars.  There's a ton of traffic and everybody
is slamming everybody.

"The difference is everybody was laughing on those bumper cars and you
don't see a whole heck of a lot of laughing at Martinsville. Just like
the bumper cars, a few of them will slam into you on purpose and some
others will slam into you because they can't figure out any other
place to go.
"There are two things you have to hold onto at Martinsville - your
brakes and your temper. Lose either one of them and you are pretty
well done for the day.

"Everybody thinks brakes. You have to use them but you try to use them
as little as possible. You are slamming the gas coming out of the
second turn and hitting the brakes going into three. You are slamming
the gas coming out of the fourth turn and hitting the brakes going
into one. And you do that all day long, 500 times. Those brakes going
into one and three are just as important as that gas pedal coming out
of two and four. Forget that, and you can just about forget doing
anything worth a flip at Martinsville.

"I'm pretty fortunate that I'm usually pretty easy-going. That doesn't
mean I don't lose my temper sometimes but I think I control it better
than most. You have got to keep your wits about you and not let blood
red sight control what you do on the racetrack. Man, I've seen guys
tick off half the field from all the beating and banging they were
doing, especially the unnecessary stuff.  Somehow, though, something
always seemed to happen to those guys towards the end of the race, and
they always ended up wrecked. Strange how that happens, huh?

"A really good way to stay out of trouble is by not causing anybody
else trouble. There are a few guys out there that, if you mess with
them, believe me, you'd rather have a terrorist hit man after
you. They will get you back before the day is over. Most people know I
drive pretty clean but there are one or two if I bump them
accidentally, I'll be on the radio apologizing as quickly as I
can. They need to know it was an accident.

"We're still going as hard as we can go with the Kodak Gold Film
Chevrolet team. We're planning on at least one win before the year is
out and to make a hard run at the top 20. There's a lot of pride

By Williams Company of America, Inc.