Daytona 500 Memories: "Oh No, You Can't Do That!"

Dustin ParksAnalyst IJanuary 23, 2010

10 Feb 02:  Sterling Marlin, driver of the #40 Ganassi Racing Dodge Intrepid R/T, passes Jeff Gordon #24 during the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida.  <<Digital Image>> Mandatory Credit: Craig Jones/Getty Images
Craig Jones/Getty Images

It's not too often when a memory about a race happens when the engines are silent. Usually it's an on-track wreck, a pit miscue, or an exciting finish that gets the headlines.

However, sometimes is when the engines are shut off that some of the biggest headlines can happen.

Look at what occurred between Kurt Busch and Jimmie Spencer following the Michigan race in 2003. Ryan Newman gets the win, but these two get the most chatter as Spencer apparently slugged Busch in the garage.

In 2002, it was the actions of a driver during a red flag that got everyone talking.

As the race was coming down to the final ten laps, Jeff Gordon held the lead in his DuPont Chevrolet. Right behind him, Sterling Marlin and the Coors Light Dodge. These two were nose-to-tail as a restart took place.

Marlin laid back just a bit to get a run on Gordon. The green flag comes out and here comes the No. 40 Dodge to the inside.

Gordon drops down to block and he goes spinning through the grass in turns one and two. Meanwhile, behind his spin, cars pile up and get involved in the aftermath.

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NASCAR throws the caution, and with seven laps remaining decided to stop the field on the backstretch and put out the red flag.

Cameras then pan to a shot down the straightaway, with Marlin's car at the head of the pack behind the pace car. Then, suddenly they see his window net come down and Marlin climbing from the car.

What was he doing?

In an instant, headlines were made as Marlin made his way to his right-front tire, bent down and pulled the fender away from the tire.

Benny Parsons put the exclamation point on what Marlin did with his on-air response, "Oh no, you can't do that!" As the pace car driver and NASCAR official got out, they ordered Marlin back into his car.

Every individual within NASCAR know the rules about red flag conditions. As long as the red flag is out, no work can be done on the car, by anyone.

Then came another issue, how does NASCAR penalize the driver. Cameras go to the NASCAR tower and catch Mike Helton on the phone with officials in the garage. Bill Weber, Wally Dahlenbach, and Parsons were all waiting for the call.

Finally, NASCAR told Marlin that he was ordered to the end of the line for the restart. In a matter of seconds, Marlin went from a potential victory to salvaging a finish.

Marlin was able to work his way back up through the pack to finish eighth, while Gordon came back to finish ninth.

Out front, it was Bill Davis driver Ward Burton stealing the show and getting the biggest victory of his career.

Despite the debacle that Marlin had to endure in that race, 2002 would prove to be an extremely successful year for the team. Marlin led the points for a majority of the year, but a bad accident at Kansas set him behind in the standings.

A few days later, Marlin announced that he was done driving for the season because he suffered a broken vertebrate in his neck. Busch Series driver Jamie McMurray would take over the No. 40 car for the remainder of that season.

Ironically, two weeks after taking the seat, McMurray would put the Coors Light Dodge in Victory Lane at Charlotte. Marlin phoned in and gave his congratulations to the young driver, showing that despite his early exit, he was still part of the team.

Marlin won two consecutive Daytona 500's in 1994 and 1995, but it was his actions in 2002 that are talked about the most.

As a result, for the rest of that season, NASCAR made one rule change. The official that rode in the pace car along with the driver actually stood in front of the field, monitoring the activity. Since then, that rule has been dissolved.

It was one of those moments where people just go, "What is he doing?" It's something that you never expect a driver to do at any point in a race.

Benny Parsons said it best with "Oh no, you can't do that!"

But, Marlin did and created another memory from "The Great American Race."

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