NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference Tuesday, Sept. 14,2004. Richmond Recap, NHIS Advance JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) NOTE: Mayfield ranks ninth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings heading into the final 10 races for the...
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Teleconference
Tuesday, Sept. 14,2004.
Richmond Recap, NHIS Advance
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge)
NOTE: Mayfield ranks ninth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Standings heading into the final 10 races for the 2004 championship. He's fresh off a victory last Saturday night at Richmond and only 40 points behind leader Jeff Gordon entering Sunday's race at New Hampshire.
"We came out of there Saturday night as you could tell very excited and very happy with what happened to get in the top 10 and win the race, our first race in the 19 car. A lot of things happened to us Saturday night that were just unbelievable. To be able to do that, and you've also got to remember we came back Sunday and had a little bit of a break anyway before it started back on Monday. Most of the guys in the shop, just about everybody really, we're pumped up and ready to go again. We're ready to get after it at Loudon and it just makes it more exciting to get to the next race, especially the first race of the NEXTEL Cup points' race going on. We're pumped up about it. What a great way to start the first race for us, to come off our first win and get in the top 10."
YOU SOUND A LOT DIFFERENT THIS WEEK
"As you could tell last week we were pretty pumped up and that started early in the week with the last conference call we had there."
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN AS FOCUSED ON WINNING AS YOU WERE LAST WEEK?
"That's something that's pretty wild. Last week was a really different week for us. We came off two bad races to start with. When I talked to ya'll earlier in the week I was mad. It felt like we'd made the playoffs and chocked. That's what I felt like. We just didn't run good the last two weeks. Then everybody just got their heads together and stayed positive all week. Nobody got down. I was pretty down on Tuesday, but not really down, just mad, just intense. That's all I thought about all week was we had to win Richmond. I think all the guys thought that, and the pit crew thought it. When you have that going on, that kind of mentality, it just shows right there what a bunch of guys can do when they set their hearts and minds to it. For the pit crew to bounce back like they did, we didn't make any changes and they came back and had great stops all night Saturday night and the car was flawless. Kenny (team director Francis) made great calls. You could tell everybody felt the same way I did during the week and it paid off."
DO YOU THINK YOU GAVE THE PIT CREW A CHALLENGE?
"That was so cool, and I've never been prouder of a race team and a group of individuals as I was Saturday night just because we were sitting there leading the race and I had my concerns coming down pit road where we were going to be as far as whether we were going to have good stops or not. We came in the first time they put four on, I couldn't believe what a good job they did and to bounce back from what they did mentality and psychologically from two weeks of bad pit stops to come back and have the best we've had all year just amazes me. There again, I was just overwhelmed the way they stepped up to the plate."
DO YOU HAVE AN ADVANTAGE RIGHT NOW?
"We talked about that yesterday. I was up at the shop yesterday, and I really feel like we do. We've got not only momentum, but the 19 team just won their first race. A lot of guys on that team have never been to victory lane. Now all those guys know what it's all about. They know what it feels like and they know they can do it. I feel like it was the turning point of that race team, probably the biggest turning point ever. If you remember a year ago, Richmond was a huge turning point (ran second to Ryan Newman) and now a year later we win the race. I believe we've definitely got an advantage over the field because we're just now beginning and they've won, they're already in their own rut and we're into the part we've never been before."
HOW MUCH FUN WAS IT?
"It was unbelievable. It seems like every race I've ever won in the NASCAR NEXTEL: Cup Series has been dramatic like that. At California I was burned up and barely made it to the end. Pocono, the deal with Dale Earnhardt, and the first Pocono was my first win. This one here pretty much says it all. It's by far my most memorable moment in racing so far. To be able to do what we did the other night was just outstanding. I just can't believe it happened. We knew we were close, but we never knew we were going to be that good at Richmond."
WHAT TYPE OF DRIVER WILL THE LAST 10 RACES FAVOR?
"I can tell you what I feel like we're going to do, and the reason why I'm saying this is because we came in the last week with a no-holds barred attitude. We didn't even look at it like a points' race. We couldn't. It was over then. The points' racing and being conservative was over. I think that's the approach we're going to take every week. We're going to run these guys as hard as we can run 'em. The pit crew wants to have better stops than anybody on pit road. They're going to work out harder every week and I'm going to do the same. We're going to go all out every week and not even worry about the points. We're going to win every race and then go from there."
DOES ONE DNF KNOCK YOU OUT?
"I don't think so. Anything can happen. From what we experienced Saturday night going from 14th and we were 55 out of the top 10 and all that. To do what we did, I don't think anything is out of the question. You're going to see some guys with DNF's and stuff, but I think you can come back and be there. The way the points' system is set up it's not like the top 10 has its own little set of points. We're going off everybody's points. It's still normal-type racing as far as the points are laid out and concerned. I wouldn't think two DNF's would get you anywhere, but you might be able to get by with one, hopefully not even that, but who knows? We'll find out."
WHAT KIND OF EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR GUYS OUTSIDE THE TOP 10? HOW SHOULD THEY RACE THE GUYS IN THE TOP 10?
"I don't know. I've been on the other side of that deal before I was in the top 10 and didn't even think about it. The guys that are not in the top 10 will definitely be running hard. The 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th, I look to see McMurray, Dale Jarrett, Kasey Kahne, for sure Kasey, running hard trying to win a race and trying to win a lot of races in the next 10 races because they're mad. I know the feeling. Now all they can do is win races. This could for sure be the best racing you've ever seen because of that. I don't expect anything any different, especially out of Mike Wallace. He was just doing his job, doing what he was supposed to do, racing hard. I was a little loose underneath of him. We were pulling away from Jeff (Gordon). He was running third at the time. There wasn't any reason for me to get up there and take a chance and tear up my fenders, so I just sat right there and rode behind him. As long as we were pulling away we were fine. I'd say if the 24 had been real close to me and another guy had been real close to him, and Mike was doing that, he wasn't going to be doing that for very long regardless of the situation, but the other night just worked out good for him and good for us. I don't expect anything any different. They're going to be racing us hard and who knows what's going to happen?"
WHICH OF THE LAST 10 TRACKS SHOULD BE YOUR BEST? YOUR WORST?
"The thing we said at the beginning of the year, if we can get in the top 10 after 26 races, the last 10 are my favorite racetracks, other than Talladega. We're going to Loudon, and we know we're going to be decent. We're taking the same car we had last week. We're going to Dover, one of my favorite places. We sat on the pole and should have won the first race there. Darlington is definitely my favorite racetrack. Phoenix, all the ones coming up are our type racetracks. The only one I think anyone will be concerned about is Talladega, just because you don't know what can happen there. As far as the rest of the tracks, I love 'em. We looked it up yesterday and the last 10 races of last year, we outscored five of the guys that are in the top 10 now in points, so we feel good about the last 10 at all the tracks."
WILL TALLADEGA BE THE BIG CRAP SHOOT?
"You don't really know. We just haven't run that good on speedways yet, so I'm not sure how to look at Talladega. I know the guys worked hard on Talladega so we don't have a little slump there, but I think it's just going to be a deal where everybody is going to be a little leery about Talladega. You just don't know. You could be first one lap and last the next lap. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting race for the fans."
HAS YOUR WIFE COME DOWN YET?
"She was very excited and very happy. She's not all the way over it yet. We still look at each other, we've already done this this week several times, but we can't believe we won Richmond. It's definitely a great feeling."
IS THIS A TRAINING PERIOD FOR 2005?
"That's why I think we've got a huge advantage over the rest of them guys because we're in as the underdog and we like that. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If we finish ninth, eighth, seventh, sixth, anywhere, we have nothing to lose. To be in that situation, we can gain experience of being in the championship hunt, gain experience of winning one race, now we're trying to win more. We're going to run as hard as we can possibly run for 10 weeks, whatever we've got to do. It's going to be from the time it goes green until the checkered. I know everybody says that and they're going to be doing the same, but a lot of guys are going to be points' racing also, and we're not going to be doing that."
CAN YOU ASSESS YOUR PIT CREW?
"I just know I'm very proud of those guys for bouncing back like they did after two bad weeks in general performance-wise, on the track and in the pits. For all of 'em to come back, and we didn't change anybody, they worked their butts off in practice last week. They figured out where they made mistakes and what they could do to do better. They came in with the attitude 'we're not going to let this team down.' That's what they did. To me, that tells me they're a championship type pit crew. The way we performed Saturday night in general, the pit crew, the way the car ran, everything. The way Kenny called the race, it was definitely a championship-type race team."
WHAT KIND OF DRIVER ETIQUETTE DO YOU WANT TO SEE FROM DRIVERS NOT IN THE CHASE?
"That's something you see in this series. Everybody races hard and we have a lot of respect for each other. Everybody out there does, but on the other hand, nobody wants anything given to 'em, and they're not going to give you anything, including myself. We're going to race hard. I'll bet you won't see any difference in the racing as far as guys in the points and guys not in the top 10 letting this guy go or not letting this guy go. You might see it among teammates, but I don't think you'll see that among other competitors. They're not even worried about that. They could care less about the top 10 right now. The guys not in the top 10, all they're worried about is winning races and finishing 11th. They're not worried about us. I think you'll see people trying to lead a lap and things like that because that goes on now because of the points race. We've been doing that all year long to make sure we got in the top 10. I don't think anything will change. Everything will stay the same as far as the way they race each other."
WHAT WERE THE LAST 50 LAPS LIKE AT RICHMOND?
"It was different. The mindset we had going into that race was we knew what we had to do as a race team, and the last 50 laps were the kind of a deal where we got this far and I still didn't know if we were in the top 10 or not. I didn't ask. I didn't know, and I didn't want to know. I ran every lap trying to pass everybody in front of me no matter what. I really didn't stop that until it was over. That was including the 50, 30, 10, the final lap. I ran like there was no tomorrow. When it was over, I took a breath. I didn't do anything different from the first lap all the way to the end. When I walked out of there Saturday night, I just wanted to know we did all we could do, and that's what we did. I think that's what happened to us a couple of weeks ago. Three weeks ago we were actually in the top 10. When you're just hanging on to ninth or 10th, you start playing a conservative type defense. You can't race like that anymore. Anymore you've got to go all out. As soon as we did that, we fell out of the top 10, had bad weeks on pit road, everybody was trying to be conservative, I messed up. The next thing you know we're 14th in the points in two weeks because of that. You saw Kasey and them do that, too. They got in the top 10 and they tried to hold on to what they had and it hurt them, too. I'm not saying that's what it was, but I feel like that was part of it. You can't worry about where you're at in the points. You've got to just run as hard as you can and let the points fall as they may."