JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) NOTE: Mayfield will celebrate his 37th birthday on Saturday. The Owensboro, Ky., native won last August at Michigan International Speedway. He has nine poles and five career victories in...
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Mayfield will celebrate his 37th birthday on Saturday. The Owensboro, Ky., native won last August at Michigan International Speedway. He has nine poles and five career victories in 392 career starts.
OPENING COMMENTS ABOUT LAST AUGUST'S WIN AT MIS "It was an exciting day for us. We hadn't won up until that point last year. We tested there and tested a lot of things on how to save fuel and what to do if we ever got in a situation where we needed to try to win a race on fuel mileage. It was wild how everything worked out. It was on lap 151, 152 or 153 was a perfect lap for us to have a caution and then come back in and top off. We knew then we could go all the way, but it was going to be close because we knew how far we could go from the test. We were able to finally get in that position where we could capitalize on some things we learned and things we wanted to try to do and accomplish as far as fuel mileage goes. It all worked out for us. It came right down to the last lap, and we even had enough fuel to drive back around and do a burnout and everything else. We thought it was pretty neat to be able to know and have confidence that we could do that."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR THE 600 ON SUNDAY AT LMS? "Last Saturday night was the best car I've had in a year and a half, two years maybe. The thing was really, really good. We had some trouble on lap 15 or 20. We had a plug wire mess up on us. I had to finish the first 40 lapper without going a lap down on seven cylinders. We were still running fast on seven cylinders, so I knew if we ever got it fixed we were going to be in good shape. We got the thing fixed between the 10-minute break and went back out and obviously got in a wreck with Kasey and stuff, but up until that point we don't think we ever got a chance to show how good our car really was. We ran a few laps under caution and came back out and a melee happened. We're real excited about coming into this week. We feel like we've finally found what I've been looking for in our cars. We feel like now we know the balance and what I need. I feel like the guys will be able to repeat that week after week."
HOW MUCH IS NATURAL TALENT AND HOW MUCH IS ACQUIRED FOR A RACECAR DRIVER? "That would be hard to measure, but I think most of it is talent you're born with and then you sharpen your skills. You get the diamond in the rough and then hopefully polish it up to be a diamond. From my experience, I think it's hard to teach somebody if they don't know how to drive or want to drive a racecar. It's hard to teach that. I'm not sure you could ever get to where a good driver needs to be if they don't have the talent to go along with it. I think the biggest part starts out with talent and then you go from there. As far back as I can remember, even before I started racing go-karts, I used to make laps in my grandmother's yard, make dirt tracks everywhere. I think it's just in your blood as you're growing up and it develops for you."
HAVE YOU LEARNED ANYTHING NEW THIS SEASON? "Yeah, a little bit. It seems like I learn something every week in this business. Whether it's on track or off the track or during the race you come up with little things that might help. A lot of this becoming a racecar driver, it would be like teaching somebody to play football or basketball. You can teach me all day long and I could go to every camp there is and I'm probably not going to be a professional basketball player. Then you take Michael Jordon for example. I doubt if he could ever become a good racecar driver. You look at it that way and compare it to other sports and you'll see that talent does play a big role in this deal."
WHAT'S THE OUTLOOK FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON? "I think a lot of the tracks coming up are definitely our type of racetracks, and I feel like that after Saturday night, Saturday night put a new light on what's going on with our team, and I feel good about that. I feel like we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and we've got the numbers we like and the balance numbers I like. We should be able to run good from here on out. I don't see any hiccups along the way. That's something we've been searching for all year now, and we hit on it the other night. We feel like we definitely know which way we're going now."
YOU QUALIFIED FOR THE CHASE THE PAST TWO SEASONS. ARE YOU OUT OF IT THIS YEAR? "I wouldn't assume that quite yet. You never know. We're not going down until it's over. By looking at the way the points are now you could easily count us out, and I wouldn't blame anybody if they did. We're not going to race like that. We are going to let it all hang out, which we've been doing, but we're going to turn up the wick a little bit and see what happens. I think it would be cool if we could come back and be a contender for getting in The Chase or even getting back in the top 15 would be a huge accomplishment. I'm not going to say we're going to be in it, but we're not going to give up. I can tell you that."
YOU'VE WON AT POCONO AND MICHIGAN AND YOU RUN WELL AT DOVER. COMMENT ON THE TRACKS COMING UP "We've got to win races this year, and not just one. We've got to win at least two and hopefully 10. With the way we've been running that's the only way we're going to be able to consider this year a fair season. Just to come out and run like we've been running is not anything at all like what we've been looking for. I think coming back for the 600 should be great for us. I've got a lot of confidence right now in the car and team and everything that's going on. I feel like when we go to Dover it's going to be a great place for us. So is Pocono and Michigan. A lot of good tracks are coming up that I feel we're going to be good at and knowing what we know now, I think we're going to be in good shape at all those places. The car we wrecked the other night was going to be our 600 car. It's a shame we wrecked that car because it was going to be good, but I've got a lot of confidence in all our cars. We're not hooked on one car. They've all pretty much got the same wind tunnel numbers. We're going to race 'em and stay on schedule of what our car list is. If we win the 600 I'm sure we'll turn around and take it the following week and keep on racing that one. If we don't, we've got a whole stable full of cars we can race."
CAN YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON THE PROBLEMS THIS SEASON? "Yeah, it's a lot of little things. It's not just one particular thing. It's not me or Chris Andrews or Ray or any one particular thing. It's all of us in general. We haven't got the chemistry yet up until last Saturday night actually. We've been struggling all year and then we started clicking the last couple of weeks. Saturday night was just a great night for us. Everything I was communicating to Chris he was able to fix, and I think we're starting to understand each other. I think that's been the biggest problem. We weren't getting the best out of our equipment because we were new to each other and the team was new. It's just hard to pull all that together real fast. Sometimes it happens quick when you put a new team together and they run real good right off the bat, but not very often. We feel like we're just now starting that turnaround."
DID YOU FEEL LIKE SATURDAY NIGHT WAS A TURNAROUND? "I think it was definitely a turnaround. It's funny. You'd probably look at the way we ran and say 'How's that a turnaround?' But if you'd seen the way the weekend went and had been riding with me and knew just how good that car drove you'd understand. You look at the results and don't see a turnaround there, but I'm sitting in the car. I know if they give me the same feel I had the other night we're going to win a bunch of races."
COMMENT ON THE TRACK CONDITIONS AT LMS "The track is quite a bit different as far as the grip goes. You saw a lot of cars the other night that would go in the corner and they looked stable and everything was going to be OK. Then all of a sudden either the back comes out from under them or they go up the racetrack for whatever reason. Mine did that a couple of times and I saw a couple of others do that. It's weird. You've got grip and then all of a sudden it goes away. When that happens all hell breaks loose for two or three seconds and then you're back to normal. Then you come through the same corner on the next lap and it doesn't do that. I don't know what the deal is. I don't know if there's some kind of special little devices Humpy has set up out there taking away grip or whatever, but it definitely seemed like it wasn't very consistent for whatever reason."
SO WHAT'S THE ANSWER TO THE GRIP PROBLEM? "I don't know if you can be more conservative because somebody won't be conservative and they'll lap the field if you're not careful. You've got to run hard and try to get better. From our test there we were terrible. We were junk. We couldn't get hold of the track whatsoever. Then we came back the other night and Kasey sat on the pole and Scott won the race and sat on the pole. We learned a lot from the test and the other night. Now we've got a week behind us. By the time we get to the 600 we're going know a little bit more and we should be in good shape."