Sterling Marlin was born June 30, 1957 in Franklin, Tenessee. Marlin began his NASCAR Winston Cup career at Nashville Speedway on May 8, 1976. He was filling in for his father, Coo Coo Marlin, after an accident broke his shoulder. However, his rookie season was not till 1983 when he was Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. Marlin was racing for Roger Harnby and finished 19th in the point standings.

On Marlin's 279th start, he won his first race in 1994 at the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. He was racing for Morgan-McClure Racing at the time. The following year, Marlin won again at Daytona making him the first driver in history to have his first two wins occur in back-to-back 500's.

After two more years of racing with Morgan-McClure, Marlin left and joined Felix Sabates and Team SABCO. He started racing the no. 40 Coors Light Chevrolet at this time. In 2001, Marlin started racing in a Dodge Intrepid and also his team owner, joined Chip Ganassi. He finished in the top-10 in the points race, being the only driver to stay in the top-10 the entire year.

Sterling provided Dodge their first win since 1977 when he won at Michigan International Speedway at the Pepsi 400 The 2002 season started off with a bang as well as he lead the points lead until rookie Jimmie Johnson took the lead after the race at Kansas. However due to several crashes, he has a fractured vertabrae forcing him to end his season short.

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