Jeremy Mayfield DID THE EIGHTH-PLACE DAYTONA FINISH TAKE OFF THE PRESSURE? "I'm not sure you can say that, but I certainly feel like it was a good run for us and it helped our whole program. Even before Daytona I think we were getting on a...
DID THE EIGHTH-PLACE DAYTONA FINISH TAKE OFF THE PRESSURE?
"I'm not sure you can say that, but I certainly feel like it was a good run for us and it helped our whole program. Even before Daytona I think we were getting on a roll and finding out what we like in our cars. We were 10th at Sonoma and came back and finished eighth at Daytona. I think that showed that this team has potential and is capable of running good week in and week out."
WHAT IS A COOKIE CUTTER RACE TRACK?
"I don't know who started that deal calling them cookie cutter race tracks, but I know what they're talking about. They're talking about the mile and a half race tracks with the tri-oval. I like 'em. I don't think you can say there's a lot of them yet. It seems like we go to a lot of tracks like that, but they're all still different. Charlotte is a lot different from Chicago, and Chicago is a lot different from Kansas. You have to approach them differently. I don't really look at them as the same kind of racetrack. There are all different kind of racetracks on the circuit that breaks up the series."
WHAT IS THE MOST UNUSUAL TRACK YOU'VE EVER RUN ON?
"You go from Pocono which is sort of a speedway-road course deal. It's got three different corners and is a pretty unique racetrack. Then you go to a place like Phoenix that's flat. There's a dogleg in the backstretch. There are a lot of differences, but for me I don't know which one is the most different other than the road courses."
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST TRANSITION DRIVERS FACE GOING FROM ONE TRACK TO ANOTHER?
"Early in my career, and this is probably speaking for a lot of the rookie drivers as far as not knowing the racetracks, the hardest part then is just trying to get the experience it takes at each one of them where you don't really notice a big difference each week. Now that I've been on the circuit for awhile and been to these places a lot, you just have to refocus and rethink what it takes every week at the track you're going to. Sunday night on the way home from a race I'll be thinking about the following week. Really there's no big difference except you've got to approach each one of them separate and stay focused."
HOW IS CHICAGO DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER 1.5-MILE TRACKS?
"It's got a lot of grip, and it's still kind of new. It's just a good place. There again they call it a cookie cutter racetrack, but it's not really. I think it's a great place. There's good racing there. You can run three wide if you have to. It's a great place to race, and I like it because it's new and has a lot of grip to it."
WHAT'S IT LIKE DEALING WITH RUMORS WHEN THINGS AREN'T GOING WELL?
"It's not a good feeling, but I feel like the strong teams can work their way through all of that and end up being the ones that can run for the championship. All of a sudden it just started clicking, and it was the same way with (Kevin) Harvick. I feel like we're capable of winning races and championships and anything else. It's just keeping everything together and focusing on what we've got to do and not worry about all the rumors. So far, it's working for us. I think a lot of rumors float around, but I think it's helped me. It's made me a better driver. I didn't forget how to drive race cars and these guys didn't forget how to work on them. It's just a matter of all of us working together and making it through the deal. Any time anybody gets a chance to kick on you when you're down and not running good, that's when they kick on you. They're not kicking on us right now."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH LACK OF RECOGNITION?
"It's part of the deal and part of the sport, but you've got to make your own name. If you run good one week you can't expect all the attention for having a good run. I don't really expect that, but I do expect it when we start running good week in and week out. That's what we're here for and what we want to do. You say Earnhardt and Gordon and all that, and I agree with you 100 percent. Matt Kenseth is leading the points and he doesn't get any exposure. That doesn't make sense to me. Here's a guy whipping their butt every week and they talk about drivers and Kenseth is wearing them out and you don't ever hear much about him. I'm sure it'll all come around full circle and one day we'll be back on top. I'm real happy with the way things are going, and that says a lot for this team and Ray and everybody involved here at Dodge. We went through a lot of stuff last year and a half, a lot of rumors and a lot of stuff flying around, and we're still running good. I think that takes a strong race team to be able to do that. Nobody has quit and run off and tried to get on a winning team instead of working their way on one. I think that's what this team has done. I'm real proud of everybody for doing that."
DOES INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY PRESENT ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES?
"Indy is a pretty different place. It's a huge place. It's fast and flat and there's not a lot of banking. There again, you've got to have a great racecar, good body and good chassis. The setups aren't that unusual but a little bit different for the speeds we're running. You have to do things different here just to be fast. I love it. It's smooth and a great place to race. When we come here for the race the atmosphere is just unbelievable."
DO YOU PLAN TO DO MORE TV COMMERCIALS?
"It was a lot of fun. I think it was a huge hit for Dodge and myself. I think it was our savior last year when we weren't running good. That commercial held us together and got us through to this year where we could start running good again. It was a lot of fun and hopefully we'll do more in the future. I just liked it. I think it was pretty cool and that octane 93 commercial was certainly a big hit. I'd like to do more. Hopefully we'll start running good and give Dodge a good reason to do a lot of them. I never have been one to watch my interviews afterward or listen to myself on the radio. I just do my job and hear about it and hopefully it works out good for everybody."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR RECENT RUNS?
"We've worked together great. We had a good run at Sears Point and a good run at Dover, a decent run at Pocono and then last week at Daytona. We feel like we've covered a lot of different racetracks. We haven't been on the flatter tracks yet, but we're testing at Indy and we feel like we'll learn a lot here. That's one of the strengths of this team, the flat tracks - the Phoenix, Loudon type of tracks. I think we're definitely on the right track to run good week in and week out."
DO YOU LEARN MORE IN THE RACE OR PRACTICE?
"I think you learn more these days and times, and you still learn a lot at the racetrack, but a lot of it is communication and preparation before you get there during the week. When you get to the racetrack you've pretty much just got to fine tune on what you have because of the limited practice time we have these days. That's something I think our team has got really strong at, getting prepared for a race. They go through different scenarios and different situations that could come up throughout the weekend. That's where I feel like we've gained the most, our chemistry and communication and preparing for the race way ahead of time instead of waiting until we get to the track and worrying about how we're going to make our car handle. We've already done our homework, and we're trying to get our shop mentality and racetrack mentality the same as far as being a week or two ahead all the time and allowing time to prepare for the race."
HAVE YOU TURNED THE CORNER?
"There are so many times since I've been here that I felt like I started to turn the corner and spun out, started to turn the corner and it wouldn't turn and all that stuff. I started to turn the corner and there was a wreck in front of me, but if that makes sense, I feel like now we've turned the corner and we've got a forward bite getting off that corner. I feel real good about that. This is the first time since I've been here that I can sit here and tell you that we're definitely on the right track. We have seen light at the end of the tunnel. We're past that point. We're at the door getting ready to come out of the tunnel. The good thing about that is we know where we're at. We know what makes our cars work. We understand them a lot better. I think if we hadn't gone through the things we've gone through that we wouldn't know as much about our racecars right now and I wouldn't be as good of a driver as I am right now."