In the pits- MB2
Marlin celebrates 30th anniversary of first NASCAR Cup start
When Sterling Marlin took the green flag for the May 6 event at Richmond International Raceway, it was just two days shy of the 30-year anniversary of his first NASCAR Cup start.
Marlin made his NASCAR Cup de-but on May 8, 1976 at Nashville Speed-way, substituting for his father, Clifton “Coo Coo” Marlin, who sustained a shoulder injury during an ARCA qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway the week before.
When it became evident that the elder Marlin wouldn’t enter the Nashville race, he made a deal with his son: “If you can fix it, you can race it.”
Sterling took his father up on the offer and climbed behind the wheel of the No. 14 Cunningham-Kelley Chevrolet soon after.
Though the 18-year-old Marlin posted a respectable finish of 29th in his maiden ride, it was the beginning of a high-profile journey for the Columbia, TN native.
“I hadn’t thought about this being my 30-year anniversary, but I guess that’s about right,” said Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 champion. “I am amazed I’m still around and that I’ve been running that long. Racing is my life, and I’m still having a blast.”
Entering this Nextel Cup race season, Marlin’s career statistics included 675 starts, 10 wins, 83 top fives, 215 top 10s, 11 pole positions and earnings of more than $37 million.
“It’s amazing how much has changed,” said Marlin. “There’s just so much that’s different now than even 10 or 15 years ago. It’s phenomenal to see how many fans are at each event—camping out and sitting up in the stands. I remember when Bristol was just two grandstands on each side. I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the popularity that was going to come to this sport.
“The 70s and 80s were more laid back—it was a lot simpler then. It wasn’t the rushing or the panic mode that everyone seems to be in now. It comes with the territory, and I’m not complaining. It’s just a big change.”
Marlin doesn’t know what he would have been doing the last 30 years had he not been behind the wheel of a racecar, but he isn’t ready to find out.
“I’ve had a good career, but I feel there’s more to get done,” he said. “That’s why I am excited about being with MB2 Motorsports this year. Though we’ve had some tough times this season, we’re still focused on being successful and winning races. I’m still living the dream.”
Photo caption: “I’ve had a good career, but feel there’s more to get done,” says Marlin