NASCAR Winston Cup Series ACDelco 400 Preview: #4, Sterling Marlin
21 October 1997
#4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR Winston Cup Series ACDelco 400 Advance North Carolina Motor Speedway STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: ACDELCO 400 'I dreamed it was raining three-leaf clovers' ROCKINGHAM, NC - The bad luck has continued to plague Sterling Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team, but the racers head into Rockingham's North Carolina Motor Speedway this week more determined than ever to end the season on a high note. Three races remain this year, and those will be the final three chances for the team to continue its string of victories. At Talladega, Ala., Marlin and the team again suffered the worst of luck. Working one of the strongest cars in the field and apparently in a position to pull off the victory, Marlin was caught in a 15-car melee triggered by another car's problems, destroying the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet and ending Marlin's chances. Such luck is the type the team has suffered from all season: a screwdriver through the radiator at Darlington in March; a groundhog shorting out the track's electrical system in the middle of a qualifying run in June; twice hitting debris and cutting tires in the first two laps of races. 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 27th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, the team is 228 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 Rockingham: "A black cat walking under a ladder after breaking a mirror on Friday, the 13th, couldn't have had any worse luck than we've had this year. "I've never seen anything like it. The deal at Talladega was pretty much the same kind of stuff that's been happening to us all year, the kind of stuff you can't prepare for or do anything about. The kind of stuff that just happens to you. "We had a good car at Talladega, a really good car. We were having a good run, too, a really good run. If circumstances had worked out right, we could have won the race. But circumstances are the things that have been biting us all year long. Jeff Gordon had a problem up in front of us, nothing he could do anything about, and guys start wrecking. That many cars running that close together at those kind of speeds, well, it doesn't take much to collect a whole lot of race cars. And we collected a bunch of them. "At one point during the crash, I thought I was going to get through it. After awhile, I just wanted for it to end. There was dirt and cars flying everywhere. Nobody had anywhere to go. If you weren't in front of it or far enough behind so you could stop, you were in it. "That was pretty typical of the way the whole year has been for this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet bunch. When we're good, something happens. You know, those times when we were working to overcome some problems, something happened then too. I mean, one of the best cars we had all year was the July race at Daytona. But we had to fight our way back from one lap down to finish third. They ought to make that a 500-mile race. We might could have won it then. We just ran out of time. "We had a good car in the spring at Darlington when that screwdriver flew through the radiator. It took us 18 laps to fix the radiator and we were running as fast as the leaders at the end of the race - 18 laps down. What does that tell you? We lost two laps in the first Dover race after hitting something and cutting a tire. We lose two laps in the pits. At the end of the race, we're running with the leaders and we're two laps down. We had a good enough day - outside of that one deal right at the start of the thing - to win the race. "What do you do? There's not a whole lot you can do. All you can do is keep working and figuring the breaks will work themselves out eventually. You have to be prepared to take advantage of the breaks when they do come your way. Hopefully for us, they'll come sometime in the next three races. I can't think of anybody who deserves it more right now. "The frustration is the hardest part, dealing with that, and everybody on the team is going through it right now. The other night I dreamed it was raining clovers - three-leaf clovers. I keep running from one to another, checking to see if just one, just one, was a four-leafer. You can about guess the answer. With our luck I'm supposed to find one even in a dream? "We'll keep working and keep going on. We won't give up. We have as good a shot at winning Rockingham as about anybody, and probably a better chance than most. We feel good about what we can do at Phoenix and Atlanta too. "This Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet bunch will keep going as hard as we can." By Williams Company of America, Inc.