Daytona Duel: Jeremy Mayfield race report

With an Eye for Pit Strategy, Mayfield Motorsports Secures Spot in Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2009) -- Jeremy Mayfield proved today that dreams do come true and in doing so earned a spot in the 51st annual Daytona 500. The ...

With an Eye for Pit Strategy, Mayfield Motorsports Secures Spot in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2009) -- Jeremy Mayfield proved today that dreams do come true and in doing so earned a spot in the 51st annual Daytona 500. The owner/driver of the No. 41 ALL SPORT Toyota for Mayfield Motorsports became an instant icon for drivers with ownership aspirations, as Mayfield wheeled his Toyota Camry from a 21st place starting spot to a ninth place finish in the second Daytona Duel race.

The pivotal call was made with 12 laps to go when a caution flag threw the field for a loop. Between Mayfield and crew chief Tony Furr the decision was made to take only two tires on the last pit stop, which gained the team crucial track position. Mayfield restarted the race in 3rd place with eight laps to go, but slid back to ninth by the time the checkered flag flew. Mayfield, however, was the highest finishing 'go or go home' driver in the field, thereby securing his starting position in Sunday's Daytona 500. Mayfield will line up 18th for the Great America Race.

Jeremy Mayfield:

What does it mean for you to make it into the Daytona 500?

"I can't say enough about All Sport and everybody that came on with us. I just can't believe it. Twenty-three days ago we didn't even have a race team. I walked into the shop and two hours later we bought a bunch of cars and went racing. We're in it for the long haul and I would never do this if I couldn't do it for the long haul. I'm just really proud of all my guys -- everybody involved. Mainly All Sport -- they took a chance with us and sponsored a car and team that shouldn't even be here right now. This is an emotional day for me and this is why I wanted to come back. It's pretty awesome."

How did your car handle?

"When we started the race, the car was really loose. I was thinking, I'm not sure if I'm going to have a chance to run with these guys. Came down pit road on the first caution. Tony (Furr, crew chief) made all the right changes. That's why he and I are back together. We work extremely well together. The car went right back out and handled perfect. That set us up for the two tire change at the end, which was a gamble. But we figured we got to make a run for the Daytona 500, got to gamble sometime. It was a gamble being here. Another gamble wasn't going to hurt anything. We did that. It paid off for us. Certainly wasn't easy."

How many people do you have here? Are any of them volunteers?

"Most of them are volunteers pretty much. We got several guys we've hired full-time. To be honest with you, they haven't got the first paycheck. Hopefully we can pay them now. We got 15, maybe 20 at the most, including our pit crew. Tony (Furr, crew chief) has done a good job of putting together a great group of guys. Everybody on this race team has been on winning race teams, have won races in the past. That experience I feel like helped us more today than anything. To be able to get our cars done in such a short amount of time, come here and race like we did with no problems is pretty cool."

What does it mean for two start-up teams to get into the Daytona 500?

"We both were driving Toyotas, so if that helps anything. I know that certainly helped us. The cars came from the same stable, too. I think Tommy (Baldwin) bought one and we bought another one from them. Our cars handled great. Thanks to Toyota and Triad Technologies who built our engines. They built Tommy's engines, too. I'm glad to see Scott (Riggs) get in. Just a great day. A little bit of old school. That's what our whole team is built around. Our motto for our team is, 'Keep it small.' Buy our engines or lease our engines from Triad, get our cars done from there -- Toyota -- and not really get big. I guess you could call it old psychological. Not sure. Old school with open-minded technology or open-minded something."

-credit: mm

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield