Playing the "what-if" game is cruel in sports, but especially cruel in racing. What if a certain car had never flown through the air two weeks ago? Would Juan Pablo Montoya have caught Kurt Busch?
On a much larger note, the "what-if" question may be etched on the tombstone of Sterling Marlin's racing career, which is now officially over. The venerable driver said he's hanging up the gloves after piddling around the last couple years with start and parks.
(Side note: If you're a NASCAR fan, you have to love the names that his kids have. You can't do any better than Steadman and Sutherlin.)
That "what-if" question goes back to 2002, when Marlin was having the best season of his career. He was fourth in the standings, just 81 points back of Mark Martin heading into Race No. 29 on the schedule at Kansas Speedway. He was in position to potentially take his first -- and what would have ultimately been his only -- Cup championship.
But then this happened: