Loudon II: Chase for the Cup begins

Mayfield's dilemma: How does he top his run at Richmond? The "Drive for 5": Gordon has his own, separate "chase" going DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2004) -- Jeremy Mayfield has to wonder just what he can do for an encore. But he has an ...

Mayfield's dilemma: How does he top his run at Richmond?
The "Drive for 5": Gordon has his own, separate "chase" going

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2004) -- Jeremy Mayfield has to wonder just what he can do for an encore.

But he has an idea.

Keep winning.

Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) qualified for the inaugural "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" via a dramatic victory last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Now he has to follow that up, or come close, to advance from his ninth-place position in the Chase's initial standings. He sees no reason he can't move up, starting with this Sunday's event, the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

"By far, my most memorable moment in racing," Mayfield said, regarding his Richmond win. "We came in last week with a no-holds barred attitude. I think that's the approach we're going to take every week. We're going to run these guys as hard as we can run them.

"To start with [though], we just have to put [Richmond] behind us. We're ready to go again, to get after it at Loudon. Just makes it more exciting to get to the next race, especially being the first race of the [Chase]."

Here's the beauty of the new format, at least from Mayfield's perspective: He went into Richmond trailing points leader Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) by 479 points. He comes into New Hampshire trailing new leader Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) by only 40 points, thanks to the Chase's "reset" formula which establishes the leader at 5,050 points and drops totals in five-point increments through the rest of the Top 10, before the 10-race Chase ensues.

"I'm sure [Gordon] appreciates us gaining that many points on him," Mayfield joked earlier this week.

"I think you can't worry about where you're at in points," Mayfield added. "You have just got to run as hard as you can and let the points just fall where they may."

GORDON CHASING HISTORY -- AND TWO LEGENDS

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon is atop the points as the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup is beginning. He also leads the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in two telling statistics: most victories (five) and most top-10 finishes (18). Clearly, he's a threat to win his fifth championship in NASCAR's premier series, and move closer to the all-time record of seven championships originally set by Richard Petty and later matched by Dale Earnhardt.

"I've always taken the approach -- and I feel like our team has always taken the approach -- that we really don't think about No. 7, which is to tie Richard and Dale; we think about the next one," Gordon said. "You know, I'm amazed and blown away that we have four under our belts, and it's awesome right now for us to be talking about the 'Drive for Five,' which is the motto that we have going around our shop and within DuPont. We would love to get No. 5. We can't think about No. 6 until we get No. 5. We can't think about No. 7 until we get to No. 6. Right now I know we've got a great opportunity this year. Hendrick Motorsports, their resources, have provided us such awesome equipment this year. My race team's on top of its game. The communication, the chemistry, it's there. I think we've got a great opportunity to win another championship."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jeremy Mayfield , Jimmie Johnson , Richard Petty
Teams Hendrick Motorsports