Michigan II: Winning team interview

Mayfield Wins Second Race of the Season for Dodge Charger JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) "Slugger made the call to stay out. We saw the 24 do that and we knew if it went caution free we had a shot to win the race.

Mayfield Wins Second Race of the Season for Dodge Charger

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger)

"Slugger made the call to stay out. We saw the 24 do that and we knew if it went caution free we had a shot to win the race. My hat's off to the guys on the team. We stayed out at the end and won the race. I love all these race fans out here, too. I'm pretty excited about everybody still being here. That's pretty cool. We didn't really have to make a lot of adjustments to the car today. We were stuck in traffic in the mid pack. We were good on long runs, and that's what paid off for us today. I did a burnout for all these race fans out here. I burned the tires off of it. I'm pretty happy with that.

"Today was our day. The guys made a great call. They gambled, and we won. We were points racing today. We could have finished in the top 15. We just really couldn't get track position, but we decided to gamble and go for it.

"I really didn't. I'm going going to say I didn't (have doubts that we were going to make it). I can say it now, but when them guys made that choice I knew they were pretty confident in what we were going to do. They have a lot of confidence in my saving fuel, and I had a lot of confidence in them that we could make it. We knew we were going to be close to running out. I was trying to stay ahead of the 10 car Riggs just to win the race. I kept rolling out early and doing everything you need to do to save fuel. My only hope was for it to go green and not have another caution. That's what I did and won the race. There were times I thought I was going to run out on the backstretch. I thought we were out of gas the last couple of laps. About the last three laps I thought it was sputtering. It was doing all kind of stuff. You hear stuff at the end of the race when you're leading and you're going to have a chance to win. I knew it was close, but we crossed the start-finish line. I don't know how much we had left if we had any.

"I knew the 24 came in under the last caution. We came in and pitted and the 15 came in and pitted. I think the 10. When I went back I went out behind the 10, 15 and 24 and we passed them. I knew that if it went green all the way it was going to come down to one of us four. They didn't tell me that. I just kinda knew that. I figured it out in my own head that it was going to be close, and then when they told me that all the leaders were starting to pit, I knew then we weren't going to pit. We were going to go for it, and if it stayed green we were going to win the race. There at the end we were in the position to do that. The 10 car was fast, too, but we stayed ahead of him. We knew what was going on, but we didn't tell each other. I knew what position we were in. They weren't stressing it to me that we were going to win the race until the last few laps.

"I think Riggs was running hard, but he knew he couldn't run very hard or he was going to be in trouble. We were fortunate we got a big enough lead on him early in that run. I don't know where Michael ended up. I think he was right there with us somewhere behind Riggs and the 24. Tomorrow you're probably going to read we won it on fuel mileage, but a lot of races have been won on fuel mileage in the past. There's only a few teams today that elected to take that chance and we were one of them. I thought that was pretty cool. For my team to do that with the position we're in in the points... If we had run out of gas it would have been a big story tomorrow. We ran out of gas, we fell out of the top 10 and I don't make The Chase. They deserve a lot of credit for what they did. They stuck there butts on the line, and they had a lot of confidence in me to save gas. I had confidence in them."

"With 10 to go I figured out it was going to come down to me and the 10 car. I think the 37 was up there, but he had to pit. I ran three laps in a row at 41 flat and 41.20. They were giving me my times and that was like three-quarters throttle. I didn't even go full throttle and I would roll back into the gas real easy, get off the corner and about that time the 10 car started catching me. I knew I had to do that three or four laps in a row to save enough fuel to make an extra lap. I was running 41 flats and he was running 40.80s. He started getting close, and then I started doing the same thing but giving it a little more gas off the corner. Then I'd back out in the straightaway. That's all we did. It's normal stuff you do. It's amazing what a little bit of keeping the rpm's down and rolling through the corners what that really does for you and how much gas you can save.

"We don't get a lot of support and attention, but I'd rather do that than get all the attention and not be running good. If you're solid and you let your performance speak for itself, that's all you can do. I don't care about being the one getting all the hype, but I'm sitting here right now I'm sitting here representing our race team today. I'm part of that race team. It's solid and it's a good race team. Whether we become the ones you talk about every week or not, we're here to race and do the best we can and put on a good show. I think every time we've won a race something big has happened. Why we're running underneath the radar I don't know. Why we're not talked about I don't know. All we know we're here to race and that's pretty much it.

"Today's race was weird. The car wouldn't take off very good, but it would run the same speed all day long. The temperature was 240-250 and all of a sudden it was 260 on the water and 260 on the oil. The motor wasn't running too good and you're asking for trouble at that point. I ran like that for a long time. I came in and they pulled the tape off in front of it. At the end of the race it was like 210, so whatever they did they cooled it down. We were concerned about the temperature of the engine.

"Early in the year when we first started we wouldn't have done this. Last year Kenny and I had developed that relationship, and Kenny was a big part of the calls today. As the year has gone on I told Slugger when he tells me to save fuel and I tell him under caution that I got you a lap or half a lap. You can mark that down. It took all the way up to Sears Point. We gambled at Sears Point and we had to save fuel to finish in the top 10. They kept telling me to save fuel. I did that, and after the race we had two gallons left over. They thought we were going to run out. At that point there he knew I knew what I was talking about when it came to saving fuel. That develops confidence. If I had run out today, he wouldn't have had any confidence in me next week. Every time I tell him I saved it he believes me now. That's what Ray is talking about. You start learning each other ways of thinking and you build confidence in each other."

RAY EVERNHAM (President and CEO Evernham Motorsports)

"The made a commitment to pit, and they were pretty much going all the way. That car was actually better about 15 laps after a run. It really came in w hen they packed that thing full of fuel I guess was 147 or 148 they were planning on going. I can tell you what it feels like from the other side. This is the first time I've ever been part of to win on fuel mileage.We lost so many a couple of years ago. I think we lost three to Ryan, and we lost a ton of them when we were with Jeff Gordon, so it feels good to be on this side of it. Normally when you can win a race on fuel mileage, you're not afraid to come in and top off and go to the back. It feels good, but again, we'd like more speed in the car, but it makes me feel confident knowing that team has good systems and they're paying attention to detail. You don't always have to have the fastest car to win the race. It's like any kind of ball game or something. You've just got to be there when somebody makes an error or when you opportunity happens you've got to capitalize on it. So many times with the 9 or even with the 19 we've not capitalized on the opportunities. I think that's where Slugger and Kenny and Jeremy and the rest of that team they're starting to capitalize on other opportunities. They're really starting to deliver points that can keep them in the hunt.

"I'm sure they did. Anybody that was in that Chase (2004) or getting ready for it, with five to go in that Chase that was probably the most pressure. Those were the toughest races I've ever been a part of. I've been battling down to the last two or three races for the overall championship, but the last four or five races getting ready for the Chase were a lot of pressure. Since that team's been through it, I think they're prepared for it. They've got a year under their belt, and with the communication between Jeremy and Kenny and Slugger, they're able to capitalize on every opportunity."

"I think you're saying with a little cushion are we going to be ultra conservative? Really we need to throw that over to Slugger. Slugger knows my theory is just to race and not pay attention to everybody else. Slugger has done a great job putting that team together and getting us where we're at. I want to ask that question to him myself, but my vote is just to race."

SLUGGER LABBE (Crew Chief No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)

"You race to win. If you finish in the top 10 in a race it's hard to do, so you come here, you wake up every day, waking up thinking you can win races. That's what we did today. We had a 20th place car, took a gamble and won the race.

"We're here to win, and that's what pays the bills. It pays the most points and helps to pay the bills, so that's all you can do. We're here to win. That's all we know how to do."

"It's been neat. We've been together for eight months and I spend a lot of time with him, trying to figure each other out and the team. It's a tough situation for Kenny Francis. He was the crew chief last year and he's a real good friend of mine. He stepped aside to let me take over the mechanical side of the race team, and it's been good. Jeremy is a focused driver, and I stay after him a lot, moreso than Kenny did last year. I'm not afraid to yell and holler at him. He's not afraid to do the same thing to me. It's good. We keep winning races, and Ray gives us everything we need. We've got tons of engineers working on projects. We tested here last week and Monday and Tuesday had a real good test. We got home Wednesday and NASCAR came out with a rule change. That really affected the way we approached this race. If that rule change hadn't come out we would wiped the car off and just come back here. What went into this project helped us beat the rule change for sure, but one thing that helped us today saving fuel toward the end, our engine ran hot. Our engine was over 220 degrees and they don't make horsepower. The grilles kept packing all day long, and we ran less horsepower. We ran 260-270 all day long. When they run that hot they make less horsepower and we were able to go 53 laps on a tank of fuel. The debris hurt us at the start of the race because we had to keep pitting to pull tape off, but it affected the 9, a lot of the people today. In the end, the debris actually helped us win the race.

"History says this place from lap 150 on goes green. We took a chance on history, and we took a chance on what we did at the test. We ran 52 laps here at the test straight and then ran out of gas coming to 53. We knew we had the car to do it and the engine that could do it and the carburetor that could do it, and Jeremy is really good on saving fuel. He did a good job last week at Watkins Glen saving fuel. We were cautiously nervous. We knew we could make it. Kenny was a nervous wreck. His legs were shaking. Shanna was beating me up. With five to go she asked me if we were going to make it, and I said, 'no.' She jumped all over me. We knew we could make it. It was going to be close of course. Jeremy thought he ran out a couple of times. We did a victory lap, did some burnouts and finally ran out of gas. Mark McCardle and all the boys in the engine shop did a real good job. We got this carburetor at the Indy test, and we haven't given it back to the engine shop yet.

"If a caution had come out with 10 to go we would have been doomed. It's one of them things, but when they threw the checkered flag I knew we were going to win. It's so hard to say. We could have run out of gas coming off four and the 10 car would have won. It's a gamble. Maybe I should go to Vegas tomorrow."

NOTE: The last Dodge Charger victory at MIS was in Aug. 1975 by Richard Petty.

-dodge motorsports-

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Series NASCAR Cup