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Mayfield stays focused heading to California By Shawn A. Akers He's second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. He has five top-10 finishes in nine races, and has finished worse than 13th only once this...

Mayfield stays focused heading to California By Shawn A. Akers He's second in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. He has five top-10 finishes in nine races, and has finished worse than 13th only once this season.

Still, Jeremy Mayfield isn't satisfied. He's ever reaching for that brass ring, and he's looking to grab it at California Speedway this weekend in the second-annual California 500 Presented by NAPA.

"We really need a good run right now," said Mayfield, who trails Penske-Kranefuss teammate Rusty Wallace by 36 points heading into the weekend. "We just weren't satisfied with Talladega. We pretty much struggled through the weekend. I guess in a lot of ways that's good when you can have a bad day and finish 13th. That says a lot about how far this Mobil 1 Taurus team has come.

"I can remember early in my career when I'd be high-fiving everybody after a 15th-place finish, so the fact we can be sort of disgusted with a top-15 now says a lot. That was the first race this year we were pretty much out of the hunt. I missed being in there dicing in up at the front, and we're going to do everything we can do to get back up there."

Not many expected Mayfield to be challenging for the points lead this late in the season, or this early in his career. Not only is he doing that, however, he's been challenging to earn his first career NASCAR Winston Cup Series win in the majority of the races in 1998.

Getting that first win is important, Mayfield said, but more than anything, he wants to continue to be a challenger for the championship, and running well at California is a critical part of that.

"We feel that win is going to come," Mayfield said. "We're not just waiting for it, we're working way too hard for that. But we know it's out there and we're going to get it. For this Mobil 1 Taurus team, it could be California as easy as it could be anywhere.

"We're not at the point where we're thinking a lot about the points situation, but we are thinking about points. You can't run a race and not think about them. We're not sitting here figuring where everybody else is running and where we stand with them and who we need to beat and who we don't have to worry about. But we are keeping an eye on what we're doing. Every position is important."

Mayfield ran a solid race and finished 12th in last year's inaugural race at the Roger Penske-owned two-mile race track. Just running a solid race at California this year, however, may not be good enough for a top-10 finish.

"It's an important race for us," Mayfield said. "Most of the reason is it is the next race, but it's a big points race, too. It's not the type of track where a lot of cars fall out, it is the type of track that will probably keep a lot of cars on the lead lap. So you have to run all day and you have to run good all day.

"There are tracks where, just by hanging on and finishing, you can bring home a 20th-place finish no matter how you are running. California is not one of those places. You run so-so all day and finish, and maybe you'll be 30th. You had better run all day and run really good."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Roger Penske