Charlotte: Dodge Motorsport - Jeremy Mayfield comments

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T) "You know you've got to make it to the last hundred miles and you know you've got to be careful and stay out of trouble and all that stuff to make it there, but you've got to be...

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T)

"You know you've got to make it to the last hundred miles and you know you've got to be careful and stay out of trouble and all that stuff to make it there, but you've got to be running hard enough not to get a lap down because everybody else is going to be running hard. I don't know of any race we go to any more where we just ride, other than maybe Daytona and Talladega. You might ride a little bit just because you can. You can sit there right in the pack and ride, but any other place, I think you've got to go. To win the 600, I think you've got to run every lap like it was the last lap. You can save a little bit here and there, but there's not much room to save any more.

"I've run that race a lot, and I think it's just a mindset (extra 100 miles). You know you've got to do it, so you just do it. It seems like you're pretty wore out after it no matter what, but after every race if you're not tired you didn't drive hard enough. It doesn't matter how good of shape you're in. I think 60 or 70 laps might be a little bit harder, but I don't really see the difference in it.

"Ray and I have got a little deal going on with a workout machine I've got. It's a neck machine for my neck and shoulder muscles. I wanted that because every week my shoulders would hurt from pulling down my belts, so I wanted to get my neck and shoulders stronger. I ordered it when Ray ordered all his new equipment. Our deal is every top five I get in qualifying or the race, that's a check mark for me. Every one I don't get, that's one for Ray. At the end of the year, whoever's got the most check marks is the one who doesn't have to pay. So if I've got more check marks than Ray, I don't have to pay for it. Ray's ahead right now, but I'm gaining on him.

"I don't have a personal trainer that works out with me, but Gary Smith is kinda like our pit crew trainer and he gave me a workout routine earlier in the year. I've been working out quite a bit, ever since high school. I worked out playing football and stuff., but I've pretty much been going by that. The only thing I don't like is the treadmill.

"As far as being in good shape after the race, I've got a lot of experience in the last few years with being in carbon monoxide throughout the races. The crush panels would could out or whatever and got my level of the extreme pressures up on me. Since I've been in Ray's cars, they're cool. I don't burn up. I don't even get hot in the cars. A lot of it is just the preparation of the cars. I'm not trying to knock anybody, but these cars are the best-prepared cars I've ever been in as far as driver comfort. Ray makes sure of that. I'm working on a carbon monoxide filter right now that to incorporate into my cool box and just the way the cars are built and the insulation is put in the floor pans and Bill's car is the same way. It's by far the best I've ever sat in as far as driver comfort. I think that's helping a lot.

"I feel like I'm in as good a shape as anybody out there. I feel young. I feel great. I know I'm not considered one of the young guns anymore, but I feel like I am. I won't even drink one beer over a weekend, just because I don't want to get dehydrated. I try not to drink any type of alcoholic beverages from Thursday on. Most of the time I don't drink during the week because it does increase the chances of being dehydrated. I keep Power Bars in my car. Under cautions, I grab one of those. You can drink all the fluid you want to drink, but you still have to feed your body. That's part of it, keeping food in there, and in a long race like that, you don't have a chance to do that and all of a sudden you'll run out of energy and stamina and everything else just because you can't keep nutrients and food in your body. I might have one or two bars in the car and if I want more I can get 'em on pit stops. In the 600, I'll probably eat at least two. It's tough on a driver. You can lose five to 10 pounds a race, and I don't know if that's good for anybody. On Mondays, I always look bad because I got dehydrated. I'll be drinking a lot of water and Gatorade this weekend.

"I raced Dale Sr. a lot more than I have Dale Jr. so far. I don't know if they're the same or not. It's hard to really tell. I know racing Dale Sr. every time I got to race him, I watched what he was doing and I felt like I learned a lot. I can't really say that about Dale Jr. yet because I haven't had a chance to race him a lot. He's come a long way since his first year. His first year he was pretty wild, but now it seems like he's matured as a driver and he's a good one, but to fill the other shoes it's going to be pretty tough. I know Sr. was very professional about everything he did and it'd be hard to tell. I know just by looking at their personalities, they look totally opposite to me. I don't have a problem with either one of them, but Sr. was definitely a professional.

"I can remember when I first came in the sport, if you didn't have a lot of experience you weren't going to run good at a lot of places no matter what. Now Jimmie Johnson comes in and it's the first year he's run Winston Cup and he automatically runs fast just by having good equipment. I think he's in the same shop as Jeff. They've got the same equipment and everything and he's outrunning Jeff. He came right in the sport with a young team and hasn't had any experience and outruns Jeff Gordon and Robby Loomis. That almost tells you right there you don't need experience anymore, but I almost wonder what's going on at the 24, too. For them to come in here and take the exact same equipment and outrun the 24, week in and week out, that's an accomplishment. I'm not sure where the experience level is there, but it's obvious you don't have to have any any more.

"I think the experience factor will come into play as we go on into the season. A lot of teams that run good at the beginning of the season won't at the end or middle and you'll see the guys who didn't run good at the beginning of the season, and most of those will be the veteran drivers, will come on strong and be there at the end. A lot of times you'll see guys who there in the top 10 who hadn't ever been there and then you'll see about midseason on and you've got all the veteran drivers back up there again. I'm sure experience is a factor there somewhere. I'm just not sure how it's all playing out right now.

"I'm trying to stay open minded and not say, 'OK, I've run this here before and this here before.' If that's the case we'd be looking at all Ray's notes from the past when he won all the races and run those every week. You've got to change with time and not let the experience hurt you.

"I'm hearing stories about the older drivers who can't develop a feel for the new tire or the changes that go on. I'm trying my best to be open minded and really look outside the box on everything and say 'just because it worked here doesn't mean it's going to work over here.' I'm trying my best to do all the different things I need to do as a driver and it's been a huge change for me. The last couple of years, it's really come about. The hard thing is to keep that mindset throughout your whole race team. I feel real good about our young team. We're open minded and ready to take on those changes.

"The drivers still have to give input back. You're still seeing some teams struggle out there. They can't find the drivers they're looking for and vice versa. Since I've been here, Ray has listened to all my comments about what I'm looking for in a race car. Every week, that's why you're seeing us get better and better. There's not a week that's gone by yet that we haven't made improvements. Our final result may not show that yet, but we've made huge improvements week in and week out and a lot of that is based on driver input. Sometimes you get hit or miss things, but if you just keep toward working getting the team, driver and everything feeling right, it's still going to be the best direction to go in. Ray is willing to work and make the changes we need.

"I think Tony Furr is going to be a big asset to our whole organization. He and I have worked together before and worked well together. He and Sammy (Johns) and Mike (Ford) like each other. I couldn't ask for a better situation as far as teammates, people I'm working around. Tony is just a big part of that. He's got a lot of knowledge of what the new tire needs and what the cars need. He and Ray get along great. I think he's going to be a plus for us all. He fits in our organization well. There again, that's been something that Ray has been very good about. Putting the right people in the right places, and I feel like he's another one who's going to fit right in with us.

"I know this is going to sound like I know what I'm talking about and knew what was going on, but I did know that if I had passed Earnhardt (at Pocono) any sooner than I did, I had made a run on him 15 or 20 laps before then, but he and I had been getting each other loose all day long. We both only had two (new) tires, and I knew Ricky and Dale Jarrett were right behind us catching us. If we had started racing each other they would have been right on us. We kept pulling away. I knew the only shot I had was if he missed his marks a little bit, and I knew it had to be toward the end of the race. All of a sudden, we went into the tunnel turn and he pushed up just a little bit. It enabled us to get a run on him, but in all honesty, I knew if it was going to happen it was going to happen on the last lap. It felt pretty good, and I'd say his reaction, he was highly *&@#*! at the time.

"The second race that year at Pocono, I was leading it and when I went into the tunnel turn, I had a flat tire and we gave another one to Rusty that day. I felt like I won the Pocono 499.

"We're going after the No Bull (Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway), but the million dollars is just a bonus. We want the trophy and the million dollar check, the trophy first. We want to win bad, and I think it would be awesome to see a fan come home with a million dollars, but for us to have the trophy and a fan to have a million and for us to split a million among the race team.... It's pretty awesome what Winston does. That's a lot of money they've paid out."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeremy Mayfield , Jimmie Johnson , Gary Smith