After helping out in his dad's shop in prior years, Marlin became his tire changer at age 15 and one year later served as his father's crew chief. In 1976, at age 19, Marlin made his Cup debut subbing for his injured father at Nashville Speedway. He managed only 55 laps before an oil pump retired the car.
From 1980-82, Marlin won three Nashville Speedway track championships, then in '83 hooked up with owner Roger Hambry for his first full Cup season. He finished 19th in points to win rookie of the year honors.
Marlin didn't race full time again until 1987, when he finished 11th in points for owner Billy Hagan. It was a stretch of 10 consecutive seasons in which Marlin finished 15th or better in the final point standings.
Entering 1994 Marlin had finished in the top 10 in points three times and had nine second-place runs, but that first victory remained elusive. That changed when he won the Daytona 500 for Morgan-McClure Racing.
Marlin had his best year to date in 1995 when he again won the Daytona 500, becoming the first driver to make his first two career victories in the historic season-opening race. He also became just the third driver to win back-to-back Daytona 500s.
Marlin won three races in '95 with nine top-fives and 22 top-10s in 31 starts to finish third in points. Marlin also ranked third in the final point standings in 2001, his first year with Chip Ganassi Racing. Marlin was the only driver to stay in the top 10 in points all season.
In 2002 Marlin held the points lead for 25 consecutive weeks, but a crash at Kansas forced him to miss the final seven races. That year marked the last two of Marlin's 10 career victories.
In 2006 Marlin joins MB2 Motorsports and will drive a new entry in the Cup Series, the No. 14 Chevrolet.
Marlin is also part of a third-generation racing family with son Steadman having competed in the Busch and Craftsman Truck series.