JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Mayfield has recorded three top fives and four top 10s in five starts at California Speedway. He won the 2000 Napa Auto Parts 500 and finished fifth at California Speedway last...
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Mayfield has recorded three top fives and four top 10s in five starts at California Speedway. He won the 2000 Napa Auto Parts 500 and finished fifth at California Speedway last season. Mayfield finished 36th last week at Talladega and dropped two spots to 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings.
"I've been looking forward to it (California race) all year. The way things are going and the progression I've seen with the team and the cars and everybody at the shop and the whole deal, I've just been really excited about getting to California. I feel like that's going to be the turning point of the year. I think we're going to go there and get the momentum rolling.
"I feel like as well as Rusty, I pretty much knew what went on over there and I've got notes and he's got notes. Between all of us, we ought to be able to go there and apply the same stuff and run good. It's one of my favorite tracks. I like it as a driver, too. It's a good place for me.
"I wonder what they (Roush drivers) were thinking. I'm sure when they came in on Monday morning and Jack wasn't there it concerned them. We're all concerned about him. I'm sure it's got to affect them some way. He's a very important part of that race team, not as just the owner but as an influence of what went on. I've never been in that situation and I hope I never am. I think it would definitely affect them some way.
"As a driver when you go to a place you've run good at or won at, you go there knowing that you've done it and can get it done. It is a different level of confidence. When you go there with a car owner that's won, Ray Evernham has won there, too, so we should go there and run well. It boosts your confidence knowing you've won there and can get the job done.
"It's totally different in a lot of ways. Roger and everybody at Penske Racing did a lot for my career. It's been kind of interesting for me to walk into Ray's operation and see the difference in the way people do business. The biggest thing I've seen is the way Ray is involved. Roger was involved over there, but Ray is there every day and he's on top of everything that goes on. There's no question of where he stands or who's in charge or who's doing what. There's always a plan. It's very well organized. I'm not saying Penske Racing wasn't. This is just organized in a different way. It's pretty interesting the difference in the two race teams.
"I don't think we really struggled this year. We haven't gotten where we want to be yet because we're trying to figure out the new car and I'm working with some guys I've never worked with before. Everybody is new. I had trouble at the beginning of the year explaining what I wanted in the car, but now every week, that's what's so encouraging for me. Every week our stuff is getting better and better. We're getting a feel for the things and feel and balance I like in a race car. The most impressive thing is that Ray and all the guys have done everything they can to get that. I think that's been a big part of why we haven't won yet. We're just going through that transition.
"I like the banked tracks. It just seems like I've had good runs at the other places (flat tracks). You go to Pocono, California and Michigan and I've run good and I'm not sure what that is. I've got a good feel for the setup. Maybe that's a big part of it. This team is really good on flat tracks, so hopefully we can add that together and this will be our weekend.
"Ray was a big part of developing the car and getting it all started for Dodge. It's worked two or three different ways. Dodge had their aero department and Ray recently hired Eric Warren, who is over all engineering and the aerodynamic program at Evernham Motorsports. I think it's just been a group effort up to this point. We're doing things a little different after we hired Eric. I feel like our aero program is definitely second to none and headed in the direction that maybe some people haven't gone before. That's the thing with Ray that's helped make him so successful, going out and doing things people haven't done.
"He's made a huge impact on my attitude and my career and the direction my career is going. I really can't say enough. The way he's helped me progress as a driver. When I came over here, that's all I have to do. He's helped me get to a point where I can focus on things that will make me a better driver. I look at him more like a head coach. I feel like Ray's job for that race team is teach everybody what it takes to be better. His approach of handling people and talking to people just amazes me. He's on the radio with me every week. I guess you'd say the inspiration and energy he gives off to me in the race car is just amazing. It's been a huge impact on the way my career is headed.
"We found out that Bill and I like the exact same setups. I think ya'll realize what I went through before. Rusty and I seem like we were opposites on everything. I came over here hoping it wouldn't happen here. At the beginning of the year Bill and them were doing their own thing and we were doing our own thing as far as setup wise. At the end of the day, we'd always end up in the same spot. There's times where we struggled a little bit, put exactly what Bill had in his car in our car and it felt great. That's pretty neat we've got our chassis and setups the same. Our seats are even going to be the same before long. The 9 and 19 are definitely the same type of race cars and that's been good for our relationship as far as being teammates.
"You have to be conscious about the fuel, but you always have to run hard. If you lay back and conserve fuel, you're going to be in trouble. It's a fine line there. That's probably the toughest part of this sport any more. It seems like fuel mileage, track position and knowing where that line is. That's something that I'm really confident that Ray and all the guys on the team do a real good job of figuring that out. My job is to run hard. When they tell me to conserve, you do the best you can. Most of the time I'm on the mat. That doesn't conserve fuel very good.
"We were excited the way we ran at Talladega. We made huge improvements from Daytona to Talladega. We had a great car, running good. We got caught up in the wreck. It seems like every time we get to shine we get right back and hit the ring along the way. It's weird, but I think we came out of Talladega learning something. I feel like that I'm a better driver now. I know a lot of things on the speedways that maybe I could have done different and not been in that wreck, maybe stayed up front longer and not got back there and got in a wreck, but that's part of it. It's restrictor-plate racing and I'm not going to be one of the drivers sitting here whining about it. We're going to get better and try to get up front and get away from it all. I just kind of go with the flow on the rules. I'm not going to comment or say anything because there's nothing you can do. NASCAR has done all they can do and they've done a great job with them. They made the rules and we have to live with them, and that's part of it. They know when they've made good ones and bad ones and I try to stay out of all that. We'll just have to wait and see on the Daytona race.
"It just amazes me if you sit back and look at all the people that came from the town of Owensboro, Ky., that are racers and successful in all kinds of sports. Look at Rex Chapman in basketball. It amazes me, especially if you've been there. If you blink an eye you miss it. For all the people that came out of there that are highly competitive it's pretty neat. It must be the water. If you live there, you get bored quick, so you've either got to go racing or play basketball. I wasn't tall enough to play basketball, so I ended up racing. It's funny. There's nothing to really do. It's kind of laid back and you've got to find your way. You're either going to stay there or you're going to reach out for the stars, and I think a lot of people have done that."