Mayfield claims "Chase" spot with Richmond win

Jeremy Mayfield steered the No. 19 Evernham Dodge to victory lane at Richmond International Speedway, securing his spot in the NEXTEL "Chase for the Championship". Mayfield led 151 of 400 laps on his way to a ninth-place finish in the 'regular ...

Jeremy Mayfield steered the No. 19 Evernham Dodge to victory lane at Richmond International Speedway, securing his spot in the NEXTEL "Chase for the Championship". Mayfield led 151 of 400 laps on his way to a ninth-place finish in the 'regular season' point system.

"I am very proud of my guys," said Mayfield who took just fuel on this first pit stop to attain track position. "We were pretty good on old tires. If there would have been a caution we would have been in big trouble."

"We took a gamble and it paid off for us."

It is Mayfield's first win of the 2004 season, and fourth of his career.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., recovered from a lap 180 spin, to finish second. Earnhardt maintains his third place in point standings as the drivers head into the playoff period of the NASCAR season.

"It was a good race," said Earnhardt. "We always look forward to coming to Richmond. We have had a lot of good runs here. We were really surprised by who was good and who was bad here. We had a good car all night. We got caught up in that wreck in turn four, but it wasn't too bad.

"I just was real fortunate. It was pretty cool to finish a race good with the car all torn up."

The second-place finish marks Earnhardt's ninth top-three result of 2004.

"Momentum isn't on anybody's side," commented Earnhardt. "We all start over and wipe the slate clean. Who's the favorite? I am, because you are talking to me. There will be competition from everywhere. If we loose this it will be because we beat ourselves."

Jeff Gordon's third place sent him back into the lead in NEXTEL Cup points, making him the man to beat, although the points will be reset before the Loudon event next weekend.

"We need to race to win," said Gordon of his approach on the 'Chase'. "But if we can't do that, then we need to get the best finish that we can. These last ten races I think that we can't afford to have any failures, and if we do we need to figure out how to recover from them and get the most points we can.

"We can't afford to be conservative, we have to get the most points we can, but we can't afford to be over-aggressive either. We just have to play it smart."

Mike Bliss and Mark Martin close the top five. Martin's fifth place also clinches his seat in the championship battle, as he ends the regular season in eighth position.

"I'm going to sleep tonight," said Martin. "This has been a rough week. My car was a rocket-ship, fast when we tested. We raced our guts out. It will be a lot less stressful from here on out."

As noted at the beginning of the season, NASCAR will reset the points at the close of this event. Jeff Gordon now leads with 5050, followed by Jimmie Johnson (-5), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-10), Tony Stewart (-15), Matt Kenseth (-20), Elliott Sadler (-25), Kurt Busch (-30), Mark Martin (-35), Jeremy Mayfield (-40) and Ryan Newman (-45).

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Mike Bliss , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin