Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sterling Unrestricted Pepsi 400 Win Continues Marlin's Daytona Success

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sterling Unrestricted Pepsi 400 Win Continues Marlin's Daytona Success

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH -- Rain shortened yesterday's Pepsi 400 at Daytona

International Speedway, but it didn't unseat Winston Cup's

reigning champion of restrictorplate racing.

Sterling Marlin stormed to the front from the drop of the green

flag, overcame ignition failure that temporarily dropped him

back to 16th, and was back in front to stay when the rain and

red flag fell 50 laps later on Lap 117.

After waiting out a three-hour rain delay for the start, Marlin

didn't mind the 45-minute wait for NASCAR officials to call it a

day, considering the race's No. 2 starter had previously

finished second on four other occasions at the mid-summer

classic.

"I hope this rain keeps coming," said Marlin, who led

88-of-117 laps before taking cover from the rain when racing was

stopped with 43 laps to go. "We're sitting in a good spot right

now."

A short time later Marlin was in Victory Lane celebrating his

sixth Winston Cup victory and fifth in the past 11 races at

either Daytona or Talladega, Ala., where NASCAR mandates the use

of carburetor restrictor plates.

"This is the same car we won the Daytona 500 with [in '94 and

'95], and all the speedway races we've won," Marlin said. "It's

an old car, but it sure runs good."

So good, in fact, that the suspension likely had little bearing

on the outcome, despite the persistence of the Hendrick

Motorsports trio of Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon and Ken Schrader,

as well as Dale Earnhardt.

"That 4 car [Marlin] is really in a class by itself," said

Earnhardt, who finished fourth and managed to hold on to his

Winston Cup points lead. "If the 5 [Labonte], 24 [Gordon] and 25

[Schrader] couldn't hook up and draft by him, I don't think

anybody can."

Labonte, who started the day second in points, used his

second-place finish to pull within five points of Earnhardt.

Gordon, the defending race and Winston Cup champion, finished

third and is just 37 points off the lead.

Points chase aside, the day belonged to Marlin, who moved from

sixth to fifth in points with his third victory at DIS in his

past six starts. …

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