NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle: Another Link to the Past Looking to Hang Up the Helmet

The word in the garage area is that an old war horse my very well be making its final appearance on the track this weekend in Homestead. The entry list for the final race of the season lists the No. 70 car with driver TBA. According to Jayski.com, that driver is likely to be Sterling Marlin. Marlin has been running a limited schedule the last three years and it appears as though, should he make the race this weekend, it will be the last race of an illustrious career.

Marlin started his Cup career in 1976 when he completed 55 laps in a race at Nashville when he was a mere 19 years old. The son of Coo Coo Marlin, a journeyman driver who ran 165 races and scored nine top fives and 51 top 10s, Marlin was from Columbia, Tenn. He was a three-time track champion from 1980 through 1982 at Nashville Speedway USA. He made spot starts from 1978 through 1982 before he ran his first full season for Roger Hamby in 1983 in the No. 17 Hesco Exhaust Chevrolet. He posted a 10th-place finish at Dover for his best finish of the year en route to a 19th-place finish in the points standings and the Rookie of the Year honors. He didn’t run a full season again until 1987 when he was hired by Billy Hagan to drive the No. 44 Piedmont Airlines Oldsmobile. That year he finished in the top five four times with a best finish of third in the fall race at Charlotte.

Marlin’s first win came in the 1994 Daytona 500 when he was driving for Morgan-McClure Motorsports in the famous No. 4 Kodak machine. Marlin backed that win up with a win the following year in the 500 as well, becoming the third driver in history to win consecutive 500s. During his career he scored a total of 10 victories, 83 top fives and 216 top 10s in 748 races.

In 1998, Marlin was hired by Felix Sabates to drive the Coors Light No. 40 Chevrolet. Sabates sold majority interest in his team to Chip Ganassi in 2001 and Marlin was retained to continue driving the Coors Light car. Marlin’s best season ended abruptly in 2002. Marlin led the points for 25 straight weeks before losing it to Mark Martin. Shortly thereafter he was then in a wreck in Kansas that injured his neck. Doctors would not clear him to race after the crash and he was forced to get out of the car for the rest of the year. Marlin never again ran that well in the points. After three more years of running for Ganassi Marlin was released, reportedly due to sponsorship concerns about his marketability.

Marlin then went to drive for MB2 Motorsports and assumed the No. 14 in tribute to his father who ran that number during his career. He had one top-10 finish for MB2 during the year he drove for them. The following year Bobby Ginn purchased MB2 and released Marlin after 19 races. Since then he has run 18 races, 16 for James Finch and two for Ganassi Racing.

Marlin was asked if he’s going to miss racing. “Yeah, in some ways. But in some ways I’ll kinda be glad when it’s over. The sport has changed. It’s not much fun anymore.” It is a shame when drivers who started out racing for the love of the sport and the fun of the competition don’t want to do it anymore because it’s lost its fun. We’re going to miss you Sterling.

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