Sterling Marlin

usa United States
Full Name
Sterling Burton Marlin
Columbia, TN
Date of Birth
First Year
Last Year

Career Overview

The Columbia, TN native followed in his father Coo Coo Marlin’s footsteps in running the local Nashville Speedway. After finding success there, he was given the chance by the Cunningham-Kelley team that fielded a car for his father. Debuting in 1976, it took until 1983 for Marlin to land a full-time ride. Once he did, he would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors driving for former driver Roger Hamby.

He bounced around rides for the next three seasons before being signed up to replace for champion Terry Labonte at Billy Hagan’s operation. 1987 marked the first time he had run the full schedule in four years and did a good job finishing eleventh in the final standings.

While driving for Hagan, Marlin never got past 10th in the standings and with questions over who actually was running the team, he took the opportunity to jump to the legendary Junior Johnson’s team for the 1991 season. The first year of the pairing he finished a then career high seventh in the standings while adding the first two poles of his career. The next season, he slipped in the standings to 10th and captured five more poles. What plagued Marlin was never being able to close out a race and win. He spent a year with the Stavola Brothers in 1993 before getting his career changing break.

Thanks to Ernie Irvan bolting from the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team late in 1993, which opened the door for Marlin to move over the famous number four Kodak entry. In the very first race together, Marlin finally got to victory lane in the season opening Daytona 500. The rest of the season was the same old Marlin, finishing 14th in the final standings. For the next season, the team shifted into another gear with the brand new Monte Carlo. Once again Marlin won the Daytona 500, only the third driver to win it back-to-back. He won twice more and finished third in the final standings. Performance would decline over the next two seasons, despite some wins, and he would leave the team for Team SABCO for the 1998 season.

Despite a slow start the pairing, it was when Chip Ganassi bought into the team in 2001 and the organization changed to Dodge that Marlin returned as a championship contender. He won twice that year and finished third again in the title fight. The next season, Marlin was the favorite to win the title as he led the points most of the way and got two more wins. His season was cut short due to a back injury in the 29th race, ending his bid for the title. Going into that race his was fourth in points, just 81 behind the leader.

Marlin would leave the Ganassi organization after the 2005 season going to MB2 Motorsports. During that season, the team changed hands to Bobby Ginn, and it would turn out to be Marlin’s final full season. Halfway through the 2007 season, Ginn had successfully run the team into the ground and he merged the team with Dale Earnhardt Inc. The result of that led to Marlin being left without a ride after 19 races. He would hook onto the Phoenix Racing team for a few starts at the end of the season.

It would be a handful of starts for the next two seasons, including a two race stint back with Ganassi replacing the injured Dario Franchitti in 2008. Marlin finally put his 33 year career to bed after the running the 32nd race of the 2009 season at the Martinsville Speedway.

Teams Driven For

  • Cunningham-Kelley 1976, 1978-1981
  • Jim Stacy Racing 1980
  • S. Racing 1980-1981
  • Matthews Racing 1982
  • Hamby Motorsports 1983-1984
  • Bahre Racing 1984
  • Jimmy Means Racing 1984
  • Sadler Brothers Racing 1984-1985
  • Helen Rae Smith (Owner) 1985
  • Ellington Racing 1986
  • Hagan Enterprises 1987-1990
  • Junior Johnson & Associates 1991-1992
  • Stavola Brothers Racing 1993
  • Morgan-McClure Motorsports 1994-1997
  • Team SABCO 1998-2000
  • Chip Ganassi Racing 2001-2005, 2008
  • MB2 Motorsports 2006
  • Ginn Racing 2006-2007
  • Furniture Row Racing 2007
  • Phoenix Racing 2007-2009


  • Career start 1 – 1976 race 11 Nashville
  • Career start 100 – 1987 race 26 Charlotte
  • Career start 200 – 1991 race 10 Charlotte
  • Career start 300 – 1994 race 22 Bristol
  • Career start 400 – 1997 race 29 Talladega
  • Career start 500 – 2000 race 31 Rockingham
  • Career start 600 – 2003 race 32 Martinsville
  • Career start 700 – 2006 race 25 Fontana
  • Career start 748 – 2009 race 32 Martinsville (Last)
  • Career pole 1 – 1991 race 15 Daytona
  • Career pole 10 – 1999 race 15 Pocono
  • Career pole 11 – 2001 race 17 Daytona (Last)
  • Career win 1 – 1994 race 1 Daytona
  • Career win 10 – 2002 race 5 Darlington (Last)


  • 1983 Cup Series Rookie of the Year
  • 1994, 1995 Daytona 500 Winner

Cup Series

SeasonTeamStartPoleWinTop-5Top-10DNFLaps CompLead Lap FinLaps LedRaces LedDNQWD
1999No Team Data34102539710956900
2000No Team Data340017494591282600
2001Chip Ganassi Racing36121220210723305352400
1998No Team Data3200061915410342610
1997No Team Data32002688584870700
1995No Team Data311392229728194721200
1996No Team Data310251068877133311000
2002Chip Ganassi Racing290281437844224511200
2003Chip Ganassi Racing36000118962119237800
2008Multiple Teams900003227110030
2009Phoenix Racing70000771600050
2007Multiple Teams21000045808618320
2006No Team Data36000189944917700
2004Chip Ganassi Racing360037910286182011100
2005Chip Ganassi Racing350015795531520800
1994No Team Data31115117918491441100
1993No Team Data300018391539345700
1982No Team Data10000125600010
1983No Team Data30000111805300000
1984Multiple Teams1400029273700000
1981Multiple Teams20000243700000
1980Multiple Teams500021131100010
1978No Team Data20001159100000
1979No Team Data100001341011100
1985Multiple Teams800006132101100
1986No Team Data10002471738221300
1991No Team Data29207162920510211900
1992No Team Data29506134846210218800
1990No Team Data290051088310871600
1989No Team Data290041358840942600
1987No Team Data29004868356567500
1988No Team Data290061368798113341300
1976No Team Data1000015500000