Mayfield ready to go to Victory Lane FONTANA, Calif. (May 3, 1998) At this time in 1997, Jeremy Mayfield was a talented young driver who hadn't really made a name for himself in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. Through 10...
Mayfield ready to go to Victory Lane FONTANA, Calif. (May 3, 1998)
At this time in 1997, Jeremy Mayfield was a talented young driver who hadn't really made a name for himself in NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. Through 10 races last year, the Owensboro, Ky., native had posted three top-10s and no finishes of better than sixth.
Through 10 races in 1998, however, things are dramatically different for Mayfield. He has six top-10 finishes, including five top-fives. He posted a career-best second-place this weekend at California to take the lead in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings for the first time in his career.
The driver of the No. 12 Mobil 1 Ford is still seeking his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series win, and it could come any time now.
Mayfield and Paul Andrews, crew chief on the No. 12 Taurus, talked at length Saturday about the dramatic improvement of team and driver.
"I think it's different because even though we qualified second yesterday, it wasn't a big deal," Mayfield said. "Last year if we would have qualified second it would have been a huge deal. We've had such a good year that I guess we expect more of ourselves than that now. We're not really expecting it, we just want more, so second was great but now we want to go race and try to win. I think if we finish second tomorrow it would be good, but now it's to the point where nothing is going to matter until we win that race.
"I've changed in confidence only. I think I'm still Jeremy. I don't think you'll ever change that. I'm not going to be any different, but I think my confidence level is definitely sky-high when I get in that race car, not anywhere else, but just when I get in that car I feel really good about it. I've got a lot of confidence in my equipment and my team and when you've got that, that's all you need.
"The last race I won in a series was probably an ARCA race. From then on I went to Winston Cup and I've been making that climb. We do a lot of little promotion deals all across the country with four or five Winston Cup drivers where we go and put on a show for people. I've won several of those, but that's it. I know the time is coming and I want it pretty bad.
"We feel like we've already won Darlington and Texas. The public knows it and the garage area knows it. The guy spinning out at Darlington cost me the race because we were (pitting) on the backstretch. We actually won that race on the backstretch the way I see it. We went to Texas and was by far the best team, the best car, the best number in the field that day and everybody knows it, so to us it's kind of like a gradual phase of getting to that point of winning and that's helped, knowing that we're in position every week."
"In Jeremy I haven't really seen any change," Andrews said. "I think our whole team has gotten better. Jeremy and myself are definitely more familiar with each other and we're both able to work our cars out a little quicker. We started a new chassis program last year and that's all we're running so that's helped tremendously. It's not that he's different, it's just that everyone is working better together and we're making things happen a lot quicker, which is where we struggled in the past.
"The two-team effort is helping a lot. We're helping them and they're helping us and that's going good too, so that lets us get to the number one goal, which is having a good race car quicker.
"His confidence is way up. It doesn't matter what kind of sport you're in or what kind of business you run, if your confidence is up, you're going to do better and his confidence is way up right now.
"When we came out of Daytona, that wasn't a fluke. We ran good there and then went to Rockingham and ran exceptionally well there. We knew right out of the box this year that we were going to win. Even at the end of last year we could tell we were going to have a good season this year because things were really clicking. We just didn't have the end result to prove it."
Source: NASCAR Online