Highlights of Tuesday's Winston Cup Teleconference JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T) "We had a top 10 run at Richmond, and we're taking the same car back to New Hampshire, so we're real excited about it. I feel...
Highlights of Tuesday's Winston Cup Teleconference
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid R/T)
"We had a top 10 run at Richmond, and we're taking the same car back to New Hampshire, so we're real excited about it. I feel like we had a decent car the last time at New Hampshire, so we're looking forward to getting up there.
"They (Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton who have won seven of the 15 Cup races at NHIS) are both good racers and have good race teams to start with. Jeff Burton just kind of liked the track from the get-go. He's always run well there. I'm not sure what it is for them, but the way the track changes throughout the day, I think the guy who has the best car at the end of the race is the one who might have the chance to win because at the beginning you see a good race track that's got a lot of grip and by the end of it, you've got a slick track it seems like.
"I think a lot of it was getting used to the team, and as far as I'm concerned as a driver, figuring out how things are done there and the way Ray's process is set up as far as the way he runs his race team. It's like a building block. You get a foundation done and keep adding steps to that. I guess we didn't start out as good as we thought we were going to be, but now I think we're headed in the right direction. I couldn't really tell you with one answer why we haven't run well. I know we've had a lot of good runs going. I've got in a couple of wrecks this year. I've had part failures and stuff like that that's really kept us from showing our potential, but we feel like we're a solid race team and we're going to be there. We've got a teammate who's run awesome. Bill has won two races and had a great year. We get the information from them and hopefully we can keep building and get where they're at.
"It seems like we've got a lot of momentum going. We went to Darlington and didn't run as well as we thought we would, but up until that point we were getting better and better every week. We just kind of missed the setup a little bit at Darlington and came back at Richmond and really had a top five or six car all night. The way the cautions fell, the sequence of Saturday night's race got us back to 10th. It just shows we've got a good strong team that can recover from a race we thought we were going to run real well at.
"Everywhere we go we've got different feelings about the race track. We came off a good run last week, and we're excited. We're pumped up. We went to Greenville (S.C.) yesterday and shook a brand new car down there. It wasn't for this week but for later on in the year. We're just excited right now to be racing every week. We're pumped up just to get there and hopefully have another good run.
"You've got to know the track about midways on is not going to be like it was when you started. Who ever can prepare for that the best will be the ones who run well there. The ones who run the best, you don't hear them complaining about the race track. The ones that aren't running good, they're the ones who usually complain about it.
"I went through what Ricky (Rudd) is going through now last year. I certainly don't want to ever go through it again. This team I'm with now, this is where I've always wanted to be. Through the years I've been with different teams, and I've always had my sights set on a top-level team. I feel like this is the one. I want to do everything I can to make this team work on my part, and I feel like Ray has done the same thing. We're going to continue on doing that. I hope I can retire where I'm at. I love my sponsors. I love working with all the guys up there, and Ray has been awesome for me, so hopefully we never have to experience what Ricky and Elliott (Sadler) are experiencing now. Especially Ricky, when you've got a lot of bad blood going on within the team and you're not running good and everything happens from there. I hate it for him because I know what he's feeling right now.
"I don't want to go anywhere else. I couldn't ask for a better group of people and sponsors. To be associated with Dodge and all the Dodge dealers and UAW and Valvoline and Mountain Dew. We've got a lot of great people on this team and to have Ray as the leader of the whole group is pretty awesome. He's been really good for me as far as becoming a better driver, and I feel like I've got a long way to go yet to where I want to be, and I feel like he can certainly help me get there. I feel like I'm young, but I've raced for a long time here. I want to retire on down the road, but I don't' want to think about it right now. We want to be running better. I think we've got the potential to be better. We know we can get the job done and we can get there. If we can race 15 years together, it would be great.
"When you're with a team that's got a number, no matter what the number is, you become accustomed to that number. I can remember when I was at the 12. I really like the 12, Bobby Allison and a lot of people carried that number. You feel like it becomes a part of you, the image and what the fans associate you with. Now we've got the 19, it's been a change of heart. I don't care about the 12 at all. I really like the 19 number. The 19 is different. It's cool and it looks great on the car. Bill is 9 and I'm 19. I think it's great the way Ray has the numbers looking alike on both cars. I think different drivers have different opinions about numbers, but my favorite number right now is 19.
"About every week we're at a track with the Busch cars, I watch the Busch race, especially at the beginning of it to find out how the track is changing and what the cars are doing, whether it's getting tighter or loose or whatever, watching to see if guys are moving up and how quickly the second groove is coming in in certain places, just different things. You always learn something on Saturday watching the Busch cars. Even the ARCA cars, we watch them when we're at different tracks with them, and the trucks, too. I think any time you can watch a race before your race, especially the day before, you can gather a lot of information. You can tell if the high line is working earlier or if they can run on the bottom better. I watch it from everywhere. I've watched it from pit road some, and if it's on TV, I'll watch it on TV or on the top of the truck. You can see different things from different areas. Last weekend, I watched the truck race on Thursday night when I got to Richmond. I watched the Busch race on Friday night, and I felt like that helped me for Saturday night. Last weekend was a good example of that.
"We want to qualify well and get a good number for qualifying to start with (at New Hampshire). We're working on a good race setup. I don't go into a race being concerned about anything as much as trying to figure out what we've got to do to be the best we can. That's my biggest concern about New Hampshire. We need to get up there and get qualified well and having a good car at the end of the race. You've got to be good at the end.
"Any time you feel like you've got any edge at all it makes you feel good, but there's a lot of good cars out there. There's a lot of good teams, and a lot of good Dodge teams for sure. If we can do the best we can and keep our Dodge Dealers Dodge up front, we'll be excited about that, but certainly any time you can say that's a Dodge track or you feel like it is because a Dodge won there, you always feel good about it.
"Sammy (Johns) did a great job and he's doing a great job now in our R&D department. He's running that, and he's running our test team. He's getting us ahead for the future, and he's doing an awesome job there, but the deal we've got now and the way it's set up, I feel like it's working real well. I couldn't sit here and say I'd change anything right now about the way we're doing it. I really like it, and I'm comfortable. We've got Ray there to kind of head it in the right direction. He keeps us from veering off in the wrong direction anyway. Dave Skog (Team Manager) and Mike Kelly both doing a great job in their positions. I'm real happy with the way we're doing things and the way the team is communicating. I'm really feeling we're heading in the right direction. Whether we've shown that or not, we probably haven't yet, but I feel like we will in the future.
"Dave pretty much (calls the race) and Ray is in our pit box helping Dave along. It's like a 50-50 deal now. Dave is the team manager and actually assumes a little of the crew chief's responsibilities. We've got a great coach and a great leader there with Ray. Dave and Mike and our engineer Timmy (Malinovsky). We've always got Ray with us, whether he's at the 9 or 19. We bounce ideas around with each other. It's a committee deal and it sounds complicated, but it really works.
"I think it's been one of the biggest things of my career. Winning a race against Dale Earnhardt certainly has to be right there as one of the highlights of my career. I think (commercial) has been good for me and the fans. I think it's helped get our name out there and build our image with Dodge and the sport and race fans. I think it's cool that the fans like it, and I certainly enjoy doing things like that. It's cool, funny and everybody watches it. I really didn't know what it was going to look like or what it was going to turn out to be until it was done, but it looked better than I ever dreamed it would look on TV.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm not disappointed with our finishes. When you're not winning or finishing in the top five or top 10, you're always disappointed. I'm as happy as I've ever been as far as the way things are going and with the race team and the direction Ray is going in. That was the most important thing for me. I want to get better week in and week out and do everything it takes to do to do that. We're certainly excited about our team and the direction we're headed in. I couldn't be happier right now with the direction the team's going in.
"If you stay focused on your own team and the direction you're going in, and you don't get distracted with the way it looks on paper, then that's what you've got to do. I think that's what we've done. We just stay focused on what we need to do and you can see it. We get better and better every week. I'm sure we're going to hit the lows again before we hit the highs, but we're going in the right direction.
"I'm excited about going to New Hampshire and one of the guys asked me why would you be excited about going there? I can't wait to race. When you're running good and feel like things are going in the right direction, you can't wait to get back to the next week. That's where we're at right now. We feel like we're just now starting to get going and we've got a lot of good things in store for the future with this team at different tracks coming up, so I'm excited about it."