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 STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: HANES 500 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 here." By Williams Company of America, Inc.