Sterling Marlin coming out of retirement, will compete in June ARCA race in Milwaukee

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Longtime NASCAR driver Sterling Marlin will celebrate his 57th birthday three weeks early by – what else – going racing.

The Columbia, Tenn., native’s birthday is June 30. He’ll get the party started on June 7 and 8 when he takes part in the Howie Lettow 150 ARCA race at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis., according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Marlin retired from Sprint Cup racing after the 2009 season. He made his first start at the age of 19 in 1976 and in 748 career starts compiled 10 wins (including back-to-back triumphs in the 1994 and 1995 Daytona 500), 83 top-five and 216 top-10 finishes.

His last Cup win came at Darlington early in the 2002 season. Ironically, that same season wound up being one of the best of his Cup career, only to have it cut short when he suffered a serious neck injury in a wreck at Kansas, causing him to miss the final seven races and costing him the best chance he ever had at a Cup championship.

Since leaving the Cup series, Marlin has made a few select starts in sportsman races in and around Nashville.

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NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.