Victory Lane is good present for Sterling Marlin's 50th birthday

A win in NASCAR's Lenox 300 this weekend would be perfect, but a top-10 would also be a fine present for Sterling Marlin's 50th birthday.

The longtime NASCAR star will turn 50 on Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway, where he will drive on Sunday in his 728th race in the stock car organization's top division.

"I was hoping everyone would just kind of forget about my birthday, but I guess I was crazy to think that'd happen," Marlin said. "Hopefully, we can turn in a really good finish this weekend to help celebrate. You only turn 50 once, so I'm hoping we can do something on the track that will help me remember it with positive memories."

Marlin first raced in what is now the Nextel Cup series on May 8, 1976, replacing his injured father, Clifton "Coo Coo" Marlin, at Nashville Speedway in his native Tennessee.

Since then, Marlin has racked up 10 wins - including two Daytona 500s - 83 top-fives, 216 top-10s and earnings of more than $41 million (31 million EUR).

"I'm hoping to bring home a top-10 or better finish," said Marlin, who drives the No. 14 Ginn Racing Chevrolet. "We'd be happy with that. Of course, the whole team is hungry for a win and wants to be in Victory Lane, but I think a top-10 or better would be a pretty good gift for my 50th."

Marlin's best finish in 16 races this season is 13th at Darlington. His last top-10 came more than a year ago when he finished ninth at Richmond.