Dodge Motorsports Teleconference July 27, 2004 JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) NOTE: Mayfield is a two-time winner at Pocono and finished second there six weeks ago. He's ranked 11th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings, 106 ...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
July 27, 2004
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
NOTE: Mayfield is a two-time winner at Pocono and finished second there six weeks ago. He's ranked 11th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings, 106 points behind 10th-place Ryan Newman. Mayfield is fresh off a 10th-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire.
HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING WATKINS GLEN
"I feel real good going into that race because I feel like I've gotten better on the road courses. I'm excited about it. I feel like we've got a great road course program now. It's certainly helped me a lot. That's a place I don't dread going to. When we used to go to Sears Point, I didn't want to go. I always liked going to Watkins Glen. I feel like with what we know now and how much better our program is we'll be in good shape. We've focused on that a lot. We feel like it's going to be one of the places we're going to be able to capitalize on. We've always had good runs there. Something would either happen to me during the race, but we've always run good there and we're excited about it. We know that it will be a key place to run well at, just like all of 'em from here on out, but that could definitely be a turning point for us."
COMMENT ON UPCOMING MARTINSVILLE RACE, THE ONLY SHORT TRACK IN THE FINAL 10. COULD IT BE MORE INTENSE THAN EVER?
"Yeah, it probably could, especially being Martinsville. You never know there. You can go there with a great car and run good all day and then get in a wreck or burn up your brakes. There's so many variables at that place. It's definitely going to play a big role in determining the championship. It's a tough place to get around in general. So many things can go wrong that's out of your control. It could turn the championship chase around. I like racing there when my car's good and when we're having a great day, but when we're not, I don't (like racing there). It's just one of those places where I've had some good runs and yet I've had a lot of bad runs, too. I'm not as confident going in there as I am a place like Pocono or Indy."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR SHOULD LOOK AT LETTING AN INJURED DRIVER TAKE A RACE OFF?
"I could understand if he was hurt in a NASCAR race, but to change the rules because Dale Jr. got burned in a car at Sears Point that wasn't even in our division, I don't understand that. This is what we have to do and love to do and do for a living, driving in the NEXTEL Cup Series. I feel that if you go out and drive in another series, say I go out and race go-karts Saturday night and I get hurt right before Sunday's race, does NASCAR change the rules because of that? That's what I don't understand. I choose not to drive in other series because I don't want to get hurt. I have a lot of responsibilities and priorities with my Cup deal, so I choose not to jeopardize that and put that on the line. I think the other drivers should think about that."
HOW ABOUT IF INJURY HAPPENED IN A CUP RACE?
"Yeah, if a guy got hurt one week and couldn't drive the next, I'd certainly choose to do that, but I wouldn't if you were out playing around and doing something that was not a good move. I'm saying that for myself, too. If I chose to go out and race go-karts and got hurt, NASCAR would be crazy to change the rules for me."
HOW DOES YOUR POINTS' POSITION AFFECT THE WAY YOU'LL APPROACH NEXT SEVEN RACES?
"We've got to continue doing what we're doing. We're racing as hard as we can race, doing all we can do to get all the points we can. We're flat out, and that's what we've got to continue doing. The guys that are eighth, ninth and 10th, I think they're going to be a little more patient and not try to make any mistakes whereas we fee like we've got nothing to lose. We've got to run hard and gain all we can every week. I'd rather be in the situation we're in right now because sometimes you can be too conservative. Right now we're in the offensive mode and we're going to do everything we can to get there."
WHAT'S YOUR SECRET AT POCONO?
"I'm not sure. I get asked that question a lot. It's a place I like and other than the last race there I had two or three bad races before that. I thought maybe I didn't have the edge I had in the past, but we've found that again. We finished second the last time there, and I'm excited about getting back this time. It's a place I love going to. I love the racetrack. I have a lot of confidence going in there, and I think my team has a lot of confidence going in there also. That's what it's all about these days, having confidence in each other and feeling good about what you're doing."
WITH SEVEN RACES LEFT BEFORE THE FINAL 10, DOES THIS FEEL LIKE THE LAST SEVEN RACES OF THE SEASON?
"I don't really feel like it's the last seven races going into it. I feel like for us it's a different feeling. We're racing like there's no tomorrow. We know if we get in the top 10 we've got a chance to win the championship. That's an exciting feeling for our team. I can see where you're coming from, but I think it's going to open up a new way of looking at things. After these last few races, it's going to be more exciting with everybody starting over and going at it. I think it's going to be good for the fans. If you're 11th, you're going to be (upset) and wanting to win every race after that and not give anybody in the top 10 any breaks, either. It'll be interesting."
DO YOU LIKE THE NEW PLAYOFF FORMAT?
"So far I do. I don't have any problems with it. I might be sitting here if we won the thing saying I love it. Then, whoever doesn't and finishes 11th and 12th is going to hate it. Right now, I like it. I'm taking it open minded and playing the cards that are dealt to us and get all we can every week. I think we're sitting in a pretty good spot right now to be honest with you. Other than being in the top five, I'd rather be where we're at rather than worried about somebody trying to move in on us. I feel real good about the point system so far."
AFTER THE RACE, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO CHECK THE POINTS?
"Pretty quick, that's something you've got to do every week. Timing and scoring gives everybody a copy of the rundown and you kinda know what's going on. The other day the 88 and 6 and myself we were all racing hard together because we all know we've got to beat each other. Jimmie Johnson is right behind me and I'm racing him hard. You might still get within that 400-point range. Everybody is starting to race each other and you see that more and more each week now."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF NEW DODGE CHARGER?
"It's awesome. Dodge is doing an outstanding job of being edgy on the new vehicles coming out. Right now, they've got the best, and they've had the best. The Charger is just going to be another part of that deal. It's going to create a lot of enthusiasm for the company and for all the race fans out there. I'm excited about it. I think it's going to be a cool car and definitely a great race car."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TAILLIGHTS ON RACECARS?
"I've heard about that, and I've also heard (Mike) Helton say it's going to have to be some type of wireless system in the car, and there's a lot of ways to trigger that. Why would you want to do that? Right now we have maybe four to six caution lights around the racetracks. Why wouldn't they just put more caution lights up around the racetrack, maybe every 30-50 feet? When the caution light comes on, the driver is going to see it. If we don't know by now how to race without taillights.... You have a sense of when the guy is slowing down and stuff and stopping. Maybe it's something they need to look at. We've never had 'em, and I'm not sure why we need 'em now. You're going to get in to where it's even more technical. That's all we need is more confusion. I say leave 'em alone and put more caution lights around the racetrack."
COMMENT ON GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED AT POCONO?
"NASCAR said they were going to keep that in mind and try to work everything out. I'm sure it's going to come down to where somebody won't have enough (fuel) to go to the end, but that's part of it. That's part of what we do and our style of racing. If you don't have enough fuel, well, guess what, you lost that day. It'll make it more interesting. We'll just have to wait and see. (SAFER walls) will certainly be good (at Pocono) if there's an accident of something, but I don't think it'll affect the groove or the way we race or anything. It's just another part of what the track has been doing and they've all been stepping up and doing that. I think it's great. If they did it at Darlington and took that much racetrack away from us and it didn't hurt us, it's certainly not going to hurt us anywhere else."
DO CHEVY AND FORD HAVE A TECHNICAL ADVANTAGE?
"If you look at some of the numbers you might think that, but the Dodge race teams feel real good about our Dodges. A lot of things have just kinda' bit us a little bit and we beat ourselves a little bit in a couple of races. We know we've got great racecars. We've just got to get our cars where they need to be. One thing you're not hearing, you're not hearing any Dodge teams complain about it or whining about it. We're all just working hard to get all we can get. All we ask for is when we're in that position and we don't hear any whining out of Ford or Chevy. We're not worried about what they're doing. We're just worried about our teams. We know we've got great race cars. Dodge has provided us with the resources we need. It's not that Ford or Chevy has a technical advantage. That's not what it's all about. It's all about getting the best out of our equipment. That's what we've got to do. I don't know the numbers on the Chevrolets or Fords. If you look at the win numbers (11 for Chevy, six for Ford) you say, 'well, maybe.' We should have won four races so far. Maybe those numbers wouldn't have been like that if we hadn't beat ourselves. It's got nothing to do with the manufacturer. It's funny, when Dodge comes back and starts winning a bunch of races, you'll hear complaining from everybody else, but you don't hear any of the Dodge teams complaining."
IF YOU DECIDED TO RACE IN OTHER SERIES, DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE GOOD TO GET A VETO ON THAT?
"I drove a truck last year and a Busch race this year for Tommy Baldwin, but before I would do anything like that, unless I talked to Ray Evernham and get it approved by him. If I personally thought something was going to be, like a Trans-Am race at Sears Point, I wouldn't even ask. I would turn it down myself. I wouldn't do it. I feel like for all the Dodge Dealers out there and everybody invested in our race team, I feel like I've got a responsibility to them. I wouldn't put this team in jeopardy like that. I wouldn't let it get to the point where I had to ask."
TALK ABOUT YOUR TEAMMATE KASEY KAHNE
"Kasey has done an outstanding job. He and Tommy (team director Baldwin) have both done outstanding jobs. I've got to go back and say Ray has done an awesome job of putting that deal together. It's helped us a ton. I feel like we've helped each other a lot. I've never been in a better teammate situation. Bill Elliott and I were great teammates. We got along. We were great friends, but it seems like Kasey and I are more in tune with our chassis, closer setups. When we're struggling I can go to them and get their setups, they can get ours. We help each other, and it's been a great situation. I can say it's probably the best teammate situation out there right now as far as two cars running similar setups, we get along great. When they're in trouble we help them, and when we're in trouble they help us."
IS THE JULY RACE AT POCONO DIFFERENT THAN THE JUNE RACE?
"Yeah it's a little different. The track changes after we've raced on it one time. I guess we come back and it sits a month and gets even worse. It requires a different setup. A lot of guys run well and come back with the same setup they had and the guys who didn't run well go to work and they'll beat you when we come back, so you've got to really be up on your toes. A lot of people learned a lot in the first one, and if you don't do something different than you did in the first one you'll get beat. We've got that in mind, and we're going to try some things. Hopefully we'll be in good shape."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE FLYING UNDER THE RADAR SOMETIMES?
"Well, a little bit, but I can understand that. Kasey is the new guy on the block, and to be honest with you that doesn't bother me. I've been through a lot of stuff with a lot of things in the past, and little things like that don't bother me. Like I told Ray before, we're flying underneath the radar, but we're going to come up and bite 'em before it's over with. This team has done an outstanding job about being low key, racing as hard as we can every weekend. It doesn't bother us to let Kasey and Tommy have some credit. They've done a great job and they deserve it. We'll let them take the media and glory and go from there. We'll be the underdogs and we'll be the ones that come back every time and be there."