NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube 500 Preview: #4, Sterling Marlin
29 October 1997
#4 Sterling Marlin, Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube 500 Presented by Kmart Advance Phoenix International Raceway STERLING MARLIN NOTES & QUOTES: DURA-LUBE 500 PRESENTED BY KMART 'Maybe the desert will bring us some good luck' PHOENIX, AZ - Sterling Marlin and the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team have two races remaining the season to overcome a year's worth of bad luck and finish the season on a high note. This week's Dura-Lube 500 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway comes at a speedway where the Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team has been strong historically, and the season then ends at another strong track for the team, Atlanta Motor Speedway. 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. To reach that point, the Kodak Gold Film team will have to overcome some of the worst - and strangest - luck any team in NASCAR history has seen over the course of a single year. At Talladega, Ala., two weeks ago, Marlin and the team 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. 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 well back in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, the team is still within a finish in the top 20 and still has its sights set on finishing the season with at least one win. The thoughts of Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet driver Sterling Marlin heading into Phoenix: "Even with just two races left in the season, we're still figuring on winning at least one race before the year is out. There is a lot of talent on this team and there is a lot of optimism too. The fact that there are just two races left is a challenge but it's not something we can't overcome. There are people who have figured we were out of it before and they were wrong then too. We were written off before two Daytona 500s that I can think of right off the bat, and I guess they were pretty wrong there. "We've had some pretty rotten luck this season. It's some of the worst I can remember any team going through in any year at any time. But we've just got to overcome that too. Yeah, I can sit here and recite the worst. The crash at Talladega a couple of weeks ago - that was a car that was very capable of winning that race. We felt we were going to win it. Then the crash. We had that screwdriver shoot through the radiator at Darlington in the spring. We cut tires twice within the first two laps of races by hitting debris. Then there was the infamous "groundhog" incident, where the critter decided to go walking during our qualifying lap at Pocono and shorted out the track's electricity. "But we know we can overcome the luck because we've done it. One of those tracks where we cut tires early was Daytona in July. The second lap of the race I hit something and cut down a tire. We were in the pits to change tires and lost a lap. Lose a lap at a place like Daytona and that pretty much ends your day. But the crew kept working hard, giving me good stops, and I had a really good car. We never gave up and were able to get our lap back and finish third in that race. Another few laps, and I think we would have won the thing. "Maybe the desert will bring back some luck to us. Maybe there is some Indian Medicine Man out there who will take pity on us and get us back on the right track in the luck department. Somebody was telling me you can drink rattlesnake juice for good luck. I know they have plenty of rattlesnakes in the desert - now if we can just talk somebody on the team into drinking the juice from one. "Truth is, luck or no luck, we've got to keep working hard and keep going. When it's all said and done, the people winning races are making their own luck, and that's what we have to keep on doing. Sometimes circumstances aren't going to be the best, so you have to put that aside and keep on going. We aren't going to lay down and say, 'Well, our luck stinks so let's give up.' We're going to keep working as hard as we can and doing whatever it takes to win races. No, we're not going to win the championship this year but we can still win some races, and we're going to do what it takes to do that. "Phoenix could be that kind of track for us. A lot of people who needed to win have found Phoenix a good place to do just that. Alan Kulwicki won his first race there. Bobby Hamilton won his first race there just last year. It wouldn't be the first one we won but it could be one of the most important ones for us. I've finished third there twice, and we know what it takes to win there. "Winning is what this Kodak Gold Film Chevrolet team is planning on doing." By Williams Company of America, Inc.