Marlin receives threats over Earnhardt crash

Sterling Marlin, who was involved in Sunday's crash which resulted in the death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, has received threats via fax from a number of so-called Earnhardt 'fans' and is unsure whether to attend Thursday's memorial service.

Marlin receives threats over Earnhardt crash

Marlin, who made contact with Earnhardt as they approached the final corner of the Daytona 500 as the seven-time champion attempted to block him, has confirmed he received threatening faxes at home.

A policeman was put on duty outside the Marlin's Chip Ganassi Racing race shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, on Tuesday after calls threatening Marlin and his family were taken and a number of similar e-mails were sent to his website. This has caused Marlin to question whether he should attend Thursday's memorial service.

"I don't know [if I'll go]," he said. "I'll have to talk it out with Chip [Ganassi, his team boss] and them [the Earnhardt family] and see. Me and Dale Jr have been playing phone tag here for two days, and haven't got hold of each other, but I think they would understand if I didn't come because they know what's going on. I got home on Sunday night and some reporter was on TV talking about the vicious tap that I gave Earnhardt that sent him into the wall. You just wanna climb right into the TV and pull the guy out of there. We went to bed and took the phone off the hook. The next morning, we got some faxes.

"I hope people have had a little time to come back to their senses and go back to the race tape and see [what happened]. I don't think there will be [more threats], I hope not because I didn't do anything intentional. As for the web site, I don't know. A lot of people can hide behind names and say a lot of things on the internet that are not true. Maybe it's just people that are frustrated and looking for somebody to blame. There was definitely nothing on my part that did anything. I think it was just purely a racing accident."

Chip Ganassi Racing team spokeswoman Gigi Liberati said the threats to Marlin were being taken seriously: "You have to look at every threat as serious. I obviously can't go into detail about what will be done, but there will be precautions," she said.

Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip said on Monday that Marlin was in no way to blame for Earnhardt's death.

"Sterling didn't do anything wrong, Sterling was simply racing," said Waltrip. "When the chequered's waving, nobody is going to let off. When they rubbed, I'm sure Sterling didn't think Dale would wreck, otherwise he wouldn't have rubbed him. But there was just a little bit of contact and maybe it would have just shot Dale up the hill a little bit, Sterling probably thought and got him on through. It's the last lap, it's racing.

"I don't think that wreck looked to me a result of anything other than guys wanting to get to the chequered [flag]. I believe that in my heart and I hope that people will remember Sterling during this time too, because they made contact, there's no denying that. But I didn't see that being anyone's fault. It's just hard racing on the last lap."

NASCAR has already gone on record as absolving any responsibility for the incident which led to Earnhardt's death.

"It was a racing accident," said NASCAR president Mike Helton. "There were a lot of guys coming through the turn at the same time and they were charging hard back to the chequered flag. Dale wanted to be where he was, Sterling wanted to be in front of him and the other guys, Kenny Schrader and the other drivers were all back there side by side racing back to the chequered flag."

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