JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) WHAT HAPPENED? "I don't know. All I know Kenny Francis and I have been together for a long time and we're going to remain together. It's going to get back to normal like it was.
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
WHAT HAPPENED? "I don't know. All I know Kenny Francis and I have been together for a long time and we're going to remain together. It's going to get back to normal like it was. Whatever happened, happened. That's between Ray and Slugger. I have no problems with Slugger, and I don't think he has any problems with me. That's between Ray and Slugger."
HOW'S IT LOOK WITH FOUR RACES LEFT IN THE CHASE? "We're not giving up. We're just starting. It's better now than later. I guess that's the way you've got to look at it. We'll be all right. We'll be fine. We're right back to where we were last year team wise, so we'll be fine. We're going to stay positive and not let nothing get us down and keep digging. It all happened when I was in Texas. I'm not sure. I wasn't consulted about it. We were testing and I heard a little bit about it. We're a strong team. Slugger is going to be good. He did us a great job, and he'll go on and do better things and we'll all be better. If you're looking in our organization you don't need to be there. Everybody knows Ray and if you don't want to be there you don't have to be there. If you want to go somewhere else you can go somewhere else. That's the way Ray kind of approaches things. He don't want anybody there that don't want to be there."
WOULD YOU BE MORE BENT OUT OF SHAPE IF KENNY FRANCIS WASN'T THERE? "Yeah, a little bit, but Kenny and I work together great. We'll be fine. He did a great job last year, and he'll do a great job this year. It's a piece gone out of the puzzle, but it's not going to be as bad as it could have been."
WHAT'S THE GAME PLAN NOW? "We've got to go out and do the best we can with what we've got. We're not going to give up. I'm not going to give up until it's over. Who knows? I'm not going to sit here and tell you we're going to finish 10th or first, but we're going to do all we can and at the last race we're going to say we did all we could do."
DOES THIS REFLECT THE PRESSURE OF THE CHASE? "If you don't want to be somewhere you don't want to be there. If you hear that stuff, usually where there's smoke there's fire. We kept hearing the rumors all year long. Money does some weird things sometimes. I asked him before and he said he wasn't looking. What's he going to tell me? I'm looking? That's the way it works. You've got to trust each other. When you ask a guy questions and he says he's not looking and you find out later he is, that's not good either. The trust is gone when that happens. Kenny isn't going anywhere. I'm cool with what we've got. We don't have to do nothing different. Today is going to be just like a normal Friday for us. The only difference is Kenny will be on the radio instead of Slugger. It'll be business as usual. I hope we still run good, but we'll see what happens. That's part of the sport. Life goes on. It caught me off guard, but life goes on."
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED YOU'RE NOT A FACTOR IN THE CHASE? "Things change from week to week. It's not over until it's over. Everybody said that week before last and all of a sudden we bounced back up there within 116 and we were back in it, now we're back out of it again. Who knows? Who says they're all not going to wreck and have trouble like we did? If we finish in the top five that's pretty good, and we're 60 points out of it. That's pretty damn good I think. There's nothing I can do about a cut tire last week. We ran in the top 10 and top five. The team is there. What do you do when you cut a right front tire and come in? But when you come in, you put on four tires instead of two and you lose three laps. Does that make sense? I'm pumped up more today than I have been all year to be honest with you. This team is going to show we're strong. We're getting the job done. We can't control a lot of things that happen. That's just the way it is. The team is right there with me, saying the same thing. We talk about us being ninth or 10th, well, it's better than being 11th or 12th. We want to get in the top five in points. That would help a whole lot."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/ UAW Dodge Charger)
"The surface has been the same here awhile. The tires fall off here. You'll need tires on a long green flag run, but I'm not concerned about the tires at all. I think it'll be similar to the way it's been in the past."
COMMENT ON SLUGGER LABBE "That doesn't affect us. Slugger is a good guy. I don't know really what happened there. That's not our deal, and I think the 9 car will be just fine. We didn't test here. We did at the start of the year. We've always run in the top five here, so hopefully this will be a good weekend for us. I don't anticipate anything (changes for the team). The guys have stuck together all year and done a good job a working together and having good attitudes about things. We haven't run as strong as we wanted, but at the same time everybody has a good attitude and is working hard on getting better. A driver and crew chief get along in different ways. I think they should probably stick it out through the year unless it's what the team wants and the driver and crew chief decides. That looks like what happened over there. That's an all right deal, and the 9 car is like it's always been."
IS IT TOUGH FOR A YOUNG DRIVER TO ADJUST FROM TRACK TO TRACK? "It's tough with the tires and the changes to the tires. You never know what you're going to have at each racetrack, but getting to know the racetracks, I've been to most of these tracks three or four times now so that's not a big deal to me. Tommy Baldwin and the team bring a car that's close to how we ran it the race before. When we start practice that's how it is and we work on it from there. It's not as tough as it used to be."
COMMENT ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TOMMY BALDWIN "I don't really know. I have my contract with Ray. Tommy has his contract with Ray. Tommy is my crew chief, and that's the way I understand it. I don't know if he's hooked into the 9. I imagine he's hooked into Evernham Motorsports. I don't really know that for sure. We've been working together fine. We've been good on the radio, good in practice, going over notes and preparing for each week and going over stuff from the weekend before and seeing the changes we made and if it was the right change and if I was saying the right things over the radio. We've been doing a lot of that and everything has been good. Me and Tommy get along well. We just need to start over maybe and get things going again."
DO YOU THINK IT'LL BE MORE IMPORTANT TO RUN SOME BUSCH RACES NEXT SEASON? "It definitely won't hurt. I think it'll help us. There's tracks we can go to and test. By running the Busch car for Evernham Motorsports I think that'll be good for me and the 9 car, too. Tires make everything change so much. Obviously the cars do too, but tires are a big deal. Going and knowing what that tire is going to be like before we get there will help."
WILL YOU GO FOR BROKE TO WIN ONE OF THESE FINAL FOUR? "We do every week. We're not in the Chase. We have nothing to lose, but that's what we've been doing all year long. It seems like we get a lot of 15th and 20th-place finishes, but it's not because we're not trying. I'd say Texas is one of our best tracks. We always run in the top five there. We broke a part last time and crashed running fourth or third. We won the Busch race. I've never finished out of the top five at Atlanta, either, so we've got some good tracks coming up. Hopefully we can get some good runs out of 'em. It'd be great if we could win one of the Final Four. I'm always disappointed if we don't win or run up front, but we'll do what we can do and everybody is working hard to make things better and improve the situation we're in. Whatever turns up, turns up."
WHAT WILL YOU DO ON SATURDAY? "I'm going to do a thing for McDonald's at the fan fest for a couple of hours. I wanted to go golfing, but I won't do that. I know at the start of the year some of the teams went home on Saturday and came back. It's something you can do, but you've always got to wonder about fog and things. I'd rather just stick around here and be ready for Sunday."