NASCAR Winston Cup Jiffy Lube 300 Preview -- #4, Sterling Marlin
8 July 1997
#4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR Winston Cup Series Jiffy Lube 300 Advance New Hampshire International Speedway STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: JIFFY LUBE 300 'Maybe luck is back on our side' LOUDON, NH - After "making their own luck" a couple of days ago in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Sterling Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team this week head to a speedway where they have been traditionally strong over the years - New Hampshire International Speedway and Sunday's Jiffy Lube 300. Though mechanical problems cost the team three laps and a 29th-place finish in this race a year ago, Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film have been in the hunt for the win in every other year since the race's inception in 1993. Marlin has three top-10 finishes in New Hampshire's four Winston Cup races, and ran among the top 10 for much of last year's event. Fighting problems with bad luck all season, the Kodak Gold Film team came back from sure adversity in Daytona's Pepsi 400 for its best finish of the season. Running over something on the track, Marlin saw his left front tire explode and send him to the pits. Lightning-fast pit work repaired the tire - and some left front damage - but Marlin and the team overcame a lost lap and obvious aerodynamic disadvantages for a third-place finish. In fact, Marlin got his lap back at lap 125 and was running 30th at that point in the race. The thoughts of Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin heading to New Hampshire: "Going into Daytona our thoughts were pretty much along the lines of starting a new season in the second half of 1997. Maybe we were 20 laps too late in starting it but it sure looks like we had some good luck for a change at Daytona. As soon as the tire went down, I thought, 'Oh no, here we go again.' But the boys on this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team worked hard, and we never gave up. We kept fighting our way back and fighting our way back. We figured we'd do whatever it took to stay near the front and, if things went our way for once, then we'd get our lap back. If they went our way and we had enough time, we'd have a good finish. "Things went our way. We got the lap back and just dug in there and fought our way back to the front. I don't know if we could have won the race - (winner John) Andretti and those boys were really strong all day - but I feel we could have given them a run for their money. The way we look at it, we didn't lose the race; we just ran out of laps. "Still, I was really proud of what we were able to pull off. Hey, we were running 41st at one point and we were 30th with less than 35 laps to go. That's a long way to come back in a short amount of time. "It's another reason for us to be pumped up about New Hampshire. We had a couple of problems on the flat, one-mile tracks last year (New Hampshire and Phoenix), the kind of problems that cost us laps, and we paid for that with finishes that weren't so good. But we ran pretty strong at both places too. Maybe some people will look at what we did in 1996 and look at the way our luck has been the first part of 1997 and figure they aren't going to have to worry about us this weekend. Hey, that's fine with me. "New Hampshire is different and it's the same as a lot of other places we run. It's a lot like Phoenix in size and banking. The banking compares to Michigan and California, too. You can't just barrel into the first and third turns there as hard as you can go and expect to ever see the next turn. "If there is a 'trick' to New Hampshire, it's getting back into the gas. You use a lot of brakes there but stopping is just part of the deal. Usually, the first guy back in the gas going through the corners is going to be the fastest. Being the last to let off or the last to get on the brakes can help some but, in the long run, that's going to cost you your brakes. You can burn them up really quick at a New Hampshire. But if you can get slowed down without using a lot of brake and still get back in the gas quick, then you are going to be really tough to beat. Setting up the car there is more than just running the lowest line in the turns. The whole deal is setting the car up to slow down the quickest. That sounds kind of ridiculous but it's the way to win there. "It's a challenge, that's for sure. You really have to have a lot of patience at New Hampshire. That's tough to do a lot of times. You're running 30-second lap times during the race, so even if you are the second-place car and right on the rear bumper of the leader, he is just 30 seconds behind you. Take that into consideration and you can see how close he'll be to the last car in line. "The driver has to work hard. The pit stops have to be great. The setup has to be near perfect. And you can't make any mistakes. "Do all that and - and I hate to say this but - have some 'good luck,' and it could be your day. Without all of that, it can be a really long day." By Williams Company of America, Inc.