Mayfield Dover Preview

Mayfield "toughs up" for MBNA 400 Shawn A. Akers DOVER, Del. (May 26, 1998) With a 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway behind him, Jeremy Mayfield knows that things won't get any easier this weekend in the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs ...

Mayfield "toughs up" for MBNA 400 Shawn A. Akers

DOVER, Del. (May 26, 1998) With a 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway behind him, Jeremy Mayfield knows that things won't get any easier this weekend in the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway.

Typically, the "Monster Mile" is one of the toughest race tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. And even though the MBNA 400 has been reduced by 100 miles from last year, Mayfield knows that Sunday's event will still be just as grueling as in the past.

"Even at 400 miles, it's a long race," said Mayfield, who slipped from the top spot in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings to second following a 19th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 last Sunday. "You have to be patient.

"Probably the toughest part of the race, though, is the first part. If you're not hooked up and the leader is, it doesn't take long to see the leader in your rearview mirror. With an early caution, the cars that are off a little get the chance to adjust. A long green flag at the start and you usually see a lot of cars get lapped. If you're running well, you'd just as soon see that thing go caution free."

Last year at Dover, Mayfield experienced both ends of that spectrum. He wound up finishing fourth in the 500-mile event in the spring which, at the time, was one of the best finishes of his career.

In the fall event last season, Mayfield, who then drove the No. 37 Kmart/RC Cola Ford, experienced handling problems and finished a disappointing 23rd, seven laps behind winner Mark Martin.

"We're ready for Dover," Mayfield said. "We ran good there a year ago and we feel we'll run good there again this time. Last year gave us a base to use this year. Dover's been a pretty good track for me. Again, qualifying is going to be important. They have that long pit road there and you want to be as close to the first turn as you can get on it."

Mayfield wound up finishing two laps down to race winner Jeff Gordon on Sunday at Charlotte. That dropped him 27 points behind the defending NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion in the point standings after 11 races.

"There was a time early this season if you had told us, 'Hey, you're going to be in second place in the standings and just 27 points out of first after Charlotte,' we probably would have taken that and been happy," Mayfield said. "But we've been up there (on top), and it's a heck of a view. Once you've seen the view from Mt. Everest, it's hard to be happy with the hill behind the house again.

"True, it's too early to think much about the championship. That's where we want to be and that's the direction we're headed. But with 20-some races to go, way too much can happen to make any big plans for the seating arrangements at the New York banquet. We know where we want to sit, but there is a long, long way to go before anybody can make plans to sit at the only table that really counts."

That's why Mayfield is hopeful that he and the No. 12 Mobil 1 Taurus team can rebound from last weekend's setback at Charlotte and regain some lost momentum.

"It'll be a good race -- those 400-milers at Dover usually are," Mayfield said. "We just want to get this Mobil 1 Taurus back up front and be a major part of it."

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jeremy Mayfield , Mark Martin