NASCAR Winston Cup ITW DeVilbiss 400 Preview: #4, Sterling Marlin
13 August 1997
#4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR Winston Cup Series ITW DeVilbiss 400 Advance Michigan Speedway STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: ITW DEVILBISS 400 'Fuel mileage will make the difference. It always does' BROOKLYN, MI - The luck hasn't gotten any better for Sterling Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team. This past Sunday in the Bud At The Glen at the Watkins Glen, N.Y., road course, traffic cost the team a chance to really capitalize on a sixth-place qualifying run -- traffic in the pits. On its first pit stop, the Kodak Gold Film team turned a top time but was blocked in, and lost valuable time when it was forced tO back the car out and then clear moving traffic down the pit lane. Marlin finished 13th in the race. Yet, it's been that kind of year. The now-legendary screwdriver that shot through the radiator at Darlington, S.C., in March was just the start of things, it seems. A groundhog that interfered with the Pocono (Pa.) International Raceway electrical system in June chose to make its infamous walk during Marlin's second-round qualifying run. There were the cut tires at the start of races at Dover and Daytona, not to mention Marlin being slammed by another car in the April race at Texas -- all happened within the first three laps of those races and, ironically, ended with some of the team's best finishes -- 10th at Dover in June; third at Daytona in July; eighth in that Texas race. Marlin, 40, is the 10th leading career money-winner in NASCAR Winston Cup history. Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which fields the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet, has been Chevrolet's leader in the 90's on the big superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega, as well as on the road courses, where the team is also Chevrolet's leader. The thoughts of Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin heading into Michigan: "There was a small press conference before the last race at Michigan in June. Some of the writers were asking about some of the luck we'd had this season, and it got downright comical at times. I mean, how could all of this stuff happen to you in a lifetime, much less in half a year? I laughed mainly to keep from crying. It's unbelievable. If I hadn't seen it all happen, I sure wouldn't have believed it could have happened to anybody. "Then you think, why us? I mean, this is a hard working bunch of guys here. (Crew chief) Robert Larkins and the boys on this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team go as hard as they can week in and week out. Life has picked an awfully good bunch to play a cruel joke on. They deserve better than they are getting in the luck department. If it was a bunch of guys who didn't do all that much or just went through the motions, you could just about see it. But that's not the case here at all. These guys are doing everything they can do. "Last week at Watkins Glen was pretty close to being the topper. I mean, I can see getting caught up in traffic, but getting caught up in traffic that's sitting still? We got blocked in on the pit stop and we ended up losing time -- and positions -- backing the car up and moving back out again, and then dodging and working around everybody else that's pitting. It cost us a bunch. I mean, that's nobody's fault but circumstances. The guy in front, if he is able to park another foot further up, we're out of there and we don't lose that time. Instead, we've got good track position after a really good pit stop, and we're back in a position to win the race. By being blocked like that and losing the time getting out, we end up racing everybody and his brother to even have a shot at getting to where we were to begin with. That's what I'm saying. We had a really good pit stop and plain old bad luck ends up costing us not only everything the pit stop gained for us, but costs us everything else we had gained too. "Hey (laughing), that'd been something, wouldn't it? Ol' Sterling sitting there in Victory Lane at Watkins Glen. Sterling Marlin and Stirling Moss. "Well, all we can do is pick up the pieces -- again -- and head to Michigan to see what we can do there. We think we can win there; we know we can run really well. We've run well there in the past and we've had some good finishes. Last June we led most of the race and had a great shot at winning the thing. It ended up a fuel mileage deal and, like just about everybody else, we had to duck into the pits for a splash. "Fuel mileage is always a big deal at Michigan, and I'd just about bet you it will be again this race too. Even if everything doesn't boil down to fuel mileage at the end of the race, mark my words it's going to help somebody and it's going to reach up and bite somebody. Check out the garage at the end of the race and you'll figure out pretty quick who had good mileage and who didn't. There's always a driver somewhere yelling at his crew chief that so-and-so must have gone a good hundred miles further on a tank of gas, and the crew chief will be yelling back that the other car only went one more lap. The guy with the good fuel mileage will be smiling and waving and having a great time, most likely in Victory Lane. The guy who didn't, you won't really see their faces. All you'll see is their rear ends because they'll have their heads up under the cars and behind the tires and in the engine, trying to figure out what went wrong. "By and large, this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team has gotten pretty good mileage over the years. I can't tell you why, mainly because that's something (engine builder) Runt (Pittman) has figured out. But I know we're as good as any other Chevrolet on mileage and better than most. And we usually figure it pretty well. Figuring mileage doesn't leave a large margin of error. There are guys on other teams who claim they can figure it to the final drop. They don't fool me. I know it's three or four drops. "We'd rather just power our way around and win the thing by four or five laps but, yeah, we'd take a fuel mileage win at Michigan. Anybody would. The way our luck has been this year and as much as Lady Luck owes this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet bunch, maybe that'd be the way to chunk this monkey off our backs once and for all." By Williams Company of America, Inc.