JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) OPENING COMMENTS "Everything is going good. We had a good test here. The car has been really, really good. I'm real excited about it. We feel like this is the best we've been at Daytona...
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)
OPENING COMMENTS "Everything is going good. We had a good test here. The car has been really, really good. I'm real excited about it. We feel like this is the best we've been at Daytona testing in a long time."
COMMENT ON PRESSURE OF RACING IN NEXTEL CUP AFTER MAKING TWO STRAIGHT CHASES "That's what we're here for to want to be better. We didn't win the championship, and that's the ultimate goal. This year (2005) our goal was to get in the top five and we came short of that, so it's still better than having a goal of making the top 15 in points. We put pressure on ourselves just to win. It's not about anything other than just wanting to be the best out there. Ray stays on the guys, and he's not afraid to change things up in a heartbeat. So far, we're still searching for what we want in the race teams, and he's made the changes we needed."
THE PERCEPTION IS THE TEAM THAT GOT YOU IN THE CHASE TWICE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO KASEY TO GET HIM IN THE CHASE AND LEFT YOU HIGH AND DRY. COMMENT ON THAT. "From the outside looking in it may look like that, and it is the team that got me in The Chase, but I'm sitting here getting criticized. You made the Chase two years in a row and you didn't do nothin'. Kasey didn't make The Chase, so maybe now he'll make The Chase and give me another shot at doing something different and change the chemistry up on our teams. That's what it's done. It's my no means taking a team that made The Chase and giving it to Kasey or giving me a team that hasn't won races or whatever. We moved some guys from the 9 car to the 10 car because they're building a new deal over there with Rodney and Scott. I got Chris Andrews who was running the 91 deal and Kasey got all the 19 guys. Along the way this past year, Chris Andrews has done nothing but build new racecars for the 2006 season. We've got a shop full right now. You walk in the 9 and 19 shops, there's one on one side and one on the other, as far as you can see is red and black No. 19 cars in the shop, at least 12-15 cars race ready and ready to go that he's worked on the past year. That's the way it all took place. It wasn't like give Kasey all the cars I had, which weren't all brand new cars. I've got all brand new racecars, the best Evernham Motorsports can build and they're all done and ready to go, so we're more prepared today as a race team than the 9 or 10. The 19 is struggling a little bit with the new deal because we don't know how the people are going to work out, but other than that we are in pretty good shape."
ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR ROLE AS SENIOR DRIVER AT EMS? "I'm trying to be mature enough to be in that position. I have been doing this a long time, longer probably than I get credit for. I've been here a long time now, and I've seen a lot of things happen. I've been through a lot of situations. I've got a lot of experience in a lot of areas. I've been beat up, tied down, shot up, spit out and everything else. I'm hoping, and I'm telling Kasey already and Scott, and they help me, too, but I hope I can help our race teams by being in that position whether it's giving them advice or maybe they're in trouble and I can go say a few words to them. I hope I can take that role on and help build up our race teams."
WHAT DID YOU TELL KASEY ABOUT LAST YEAR? "We all know Kasey struggled a little bit last year and the year before that, his first year out, he came out running good every week. For a young driver, the first thing that happens, other than the girls and all that stuff, you get a lot of stuff thrown at you -- appearances and just different opportunities. If you're not careful, whoever is managing you and stuff, or yourself, you've got more than you can handle. Kasey has done a lot of appearances and sometimes that can take away from where you need to be. I've talked to him about that, not one way or the other, but just to give him some of my experiences."
WHERE IS YOUR TEAM WITH THE CHARGER? "We're working hard every day just like we've been trying to figure out what we need to make it better. We've heard NASCAR is not going to do anything now or whatever, but we've just got to keep working on it. It's not really one thing. You take the car to the wind tunnel and it's not that bad. It looks pretty good on numbers. It looks like your '04 stuff or even better. Then you get in traffic and you have all the problems we've been facing all year. You can't find the balance on the race car. We got closer at the end of the year. At Homestead we had a good run. Kasey had a good run. He did have the '04 car, but at the end of the day neither one of them was far off from each other. I don't think we've got any plans for the '04. I've heard talk that Penske has talked to Dodge about running 'em. It might be just rumors, but I don't think we've talked about it. We've still got to stay committed to the Charger. It's a new car and it didn't do too bad. We've got to continue on and help Dodge and Dodge help us figure out what we need to do."
COMMENT ON NEW FORD "It's hard to tell down here. I think we'll know more at Vegas. I think that might be why NASCAR has made changes. There are a lot of different things going on with other manufacturers. I think we need to race on downforce tracks a little bit and see how they all stack up. We really don't know where the Fords are this year, so who knows? I'm sure they'll wait and figure out what we're going to do."
WHY SHOULD YOU BE PICKED AS A PRESEASON TOP 10 TEAM? "I've got a better race team right now than I had last year, and we get criticized a lot about the end of the year. If you look at what you think is going to happen at the beginning of the year and you look at all the numbers, you'd still put us in the top 10. Look at average finishes, average starts, laps completed. We didn't lead the most laps. We made the top 10 running like that. If we made the top 10 last year running like that, what's going to happen this year if we get just a little bit better? That's where we're at. I understand what David (Poole) said. Yeah, we switched teams and a lot of people are different, and this, that or another, but from my point of view it's as good or better as it's ever been. The 9 and 19 are closer than they've ever been. They're working together. They're helping each other. Our cars are the same. It's a tight-knit group right now. If you're going to pick us, put us at least 15th, not 18th-20th. I know we're quiet and don't say a whole lot, but Ray Evernham and Dodge and myself and everybody on the 9 and 19 and 10 car, we're going to win races and we're going to be in the top 10 in points. I told David I just didn't want to make him look back. I've done it two years in a row and I can do it again. I'd hate to see you picking odds at Vegas. If you worked out there you'd be in big trouble. I'm just joking, but I'm trying to make a point. We're a better race team and this year we'll show you."
WILL 20 PLUS TEAMS VIE FOR THE CHASE? "Every week 43 cars run great. It's hard to do that, but every year there's 10-15-20-25 teams that have got a shot at it. You've got to really look deep into it before you decide who's going to be in it and who's not. It's as competitive or more competitive now than it's ever been for sure. The thing you've got to do is be smart on how you race. You can't have a good car and not finish the race and stuff like that, but any given week there's 20 cars that can win for sure."
ANY ADVICE FOR 2006 ROOKIE CLASS? "We talked about that the other night at the Dodge dinner. You don't see rookies coming in right now and start out in Junie Donleavy's car or Sadler's car and work your way up. When you come in now you'd better be ready. A lot of young guys come in our sport. A lot of young guys come in and don't stay long. I'm sure all those guys know going in that they've got to produce. It's not like we'll next week anymore. You've got to get 'em this week and every week. There's a lot of pressure, but there's a great group of guys coming in that seem like they can handle pressure pretty good. That's what it's all about. It's not the pressure in the sport, it's about how you handle the pressure. That's the way I look at it. Whoever handles it the best will stay strong and survive. That's the advice I'd give them. You've got to stay strong and stay focused. If you let up you'll be in trouble."
WHAT'S THE TRICK TO QUALIFYING FOR THE CHASE? "I said this about Mark Martin earlier. That's one guy I'd put on my list. I don't know where he's going to be at, but he's definitely going to be in the top 10 in the points. He knows how to race to get in The Chase. That's the thing that keeps us optimistic. We know we weren't as good as we were the year before and we still got in. I'm excited about this year coming up. There's years you say that and years you mean that. When I walk through the shop and here guys saying they've been working on pit stops and you're going to have the best pit crew you've ever had. That's another little notch for us. I look through there and see all the race cars that are ready for us. That's the reason why I'm optimistic about this year. I've got more confidence than I've ever had. I'm 102 percent, not 110 percent, confident that we can back up what we're saying right now."