Pocono: Mayfield - Dodge interview

JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger) OPENING REMARKS "Every time we come to Pocono you know you're going to have a good car, good setup and it's kind of a less stressful weekend. It's not a place that you struggle, or not...

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

OPENING REMARKS "Every time we come to Pocono you know you're going to have a good car, good setup and it's kind of a less stressful weekend. It's not a place that you struggle, or not for us anyway. The only thing I'm worried about this weekend is the not shifting rule. I don't think it's going to hurt us. It'll make it easier to drive the cars like that. It's just a matter of do we still have what we need to win the race like that."

COMMENT ON THE RACE HERE WHEN YOU BEAT DALE EARNHARDT "I don't know if it was a bump or not. It was kind of a bump. I really didn't touch him. He and I had been racing hard all day together like that. He'd get me loose and I'd move up. I'd get him loose. We did that all day long, the whole race. Then we came out first and second after the two-tire stop. Most of the guys put four on and we just put on two. That put us out in front of everybody. I was sitting there running second and I knew if I even tried to pass him what would happen. I might get by him. It was early in the run, but I knew he was going to get me loose because we were loose all day anyway. I thought at the end of the race when we went into turn one that he had it. I didn't have anything for him. Then we went off into the tunnel turn and that's where shifting really helped us at the time. He never shifted in the tunnel turn. He only shifted going into turn one. He went into the tunnel turn and kinda pushed up a little bit and I hit third gear and actually went back down to normal. I got a good run off the tunnel turn and I was going to pretty much drive up there and bump him a little bit and show him we were there. That's pretty much all you could do. I never expected him to get loose like he did. When he got loose I maybe stayed on him a little bit longer than I should have. I was able to win the race, tand that was pretty cool. That's something I'll never forget. As far as any of the wins I've had in my career, that's something that will top everything I've ever done. He was pretty cool. The only thing I could say was what he said to Terry Labonte and that was the "rattle the cage" deal. I thought I'd better think of something quick because I knew it was going to be something big, but he was a true professional about it. I can remember two or three weeks later, that was the first time I saw him because I'd been avoiding him the whole time, he kind of grabbed me in a headlock deal like his normal joking way. He ruffled my hair up a little bit and that was about it. He laughed and smiled, but he was a true professional about stuff like that."

WHO WILL THE NON-SHIFTING RULE BENEFIT? "Normally we come here and my confidence is real high. Right now, our confidence is high but we're not sure about that. We don't know what it's going to do. We felt like that was an advantage we had for a long time. Four or five years ago I was the only one that shifted twice here. You started seeing more and more cars doing that, and it took away what little advantage away that we had here. Bill came back and won a couple of years ago. We feel like we've got the setup and stuff. We're just not sure what it's going to do to us as far as shifting goes. It might make it better on us. It might be a deal where we were stuck in our little world shifting twice and other guys were doing things that were different that we didn't know about. Maybe it'll help us. We'll know shortly. That's a big concern for us right now, what it's going to do to the field."

WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HADN'T BEEN SHIFTING IN THE RACE WHEN YOU BEAT DALE EARNHARDT? "We probably wouldn't have won that race. For awhile we had a real big advantage on shifting twice. That was before anybody thought about doing that. I would shift in the tunnel turn and guys wouldn't do that. That helped me that day. He pushed up just a little bit, and if I had the same gear he was in, I would have slid up with him and that would have been it. We were able to have that little bit of advantage to get a good run going into three. You're still going to see some good racing, but I probably wouldn't have won that race that day."

WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE WITHOUT SHIFTING? "You've got a huge, long straightway, the Long Pond straightaway out here, and if you get a good run off three you're going to be way over your rpm limit or right at the max with the gears we've got selected. Then when you come off one you're going to be bobbing off turn one. It's going to be hard to get a run on the guy unless you change your engine combination or something in your cam or valve timing or something that gets you off the corners. Then you go into the tunnel turn and you might be OK getting into turn three, but when you come off turn three to get your run down the long straightaway it's going to be pretty bogging and pretty stacked up I'd say. You've got two short straightaways and one long one and you've got one fast corner, one pretty fast corner and one slow corner coming to the long straightaway. There's no telling what you might see. You might see more engine failures now than when we shifted probably."

DO YOU THINK DRIVERS WILL EXPERIMENT WITH DIFFERENT LINES? "You're probably going to see all kind of different lines and things people are trying. Most of the problem is going to be coming on to the long straightaway. I don't know how you're going to be able to get a good run through three to get a good run on the straightaway like we used to or even close to what the max power would be. Turn one is just kind of a momentum turn anyway. You kind of go through there and keep your speed up. That's the way the tunnel turn is. Turn three is going to be the one you really slow down. The rpm's are like 6,000-6,200, maybe 5,500 in the race. It's going to be hard to go from 5,500 to 9,500 and not hurt anything. I think you'll probably see them experiment with shifting to see if NASCAR can catch 'em. I'm not sure how they're going to police this deal. I know they've got telemetry in the car, but I'm not sure how they're going to police this."

WILL THERE BE MORE BLOWN ENGINES NOW? "It would be cheaper that way, wouldn't it? I don't know. I don't know what we're trying to accomplish at Pocono. It would be like going to Sears Point and saying, 'OK, we're not going to shift.' It's not the same thing at all, but this used to be a place where you had to shift. ARCA cars don't shift, but I remember driving those cars and they don't get off the corners very well, either. Let's see what happens. It might be a great thing. Who knows? It might turn out for the best and it might be better racing here and everything else. We'll have to wait and see."

IF IT NOT SHIFTING DOESN'T WORK, DO YOU THINK NASCAR WILL BRING IT BACK? "I'd say if it's a big problem we'd probably go back the way we were. NASCAR is real good about going back to what they had, maybe. I guess. I don't know. Any time you change anything somebody is going to complain about it. We might win the race and I might be sitting up here Sunday saying it's the best thing they ever did. Somebody will be doing that I promise you. Change is a big thing right now, and this is going to be a big thing this weekend. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. We've got two hours today. After the first hour we'll have a good feel for it and know what's going to happen. The race is going to be different. That's when things really show up. Whoever hits on it the best, whoever has the engine combination the best, the power curves that are the most optimum for this racetrack, those will be the guys running good. I feel like that's what we've done our homework on and hopefully we'd made the right changes and right choices to be the perfect combination."

HOW DO YOU SAVE THE ENGINE AND HOW DO YOU GET BETTER EACH WEEK? "It might be easier on the engine. When we did shift here, that can be hard on the transmissions and engines, so it can go either way on that. If you look on paper it'll be easier on the engines the way the rpm's are unless you decide to turn it 10,000 down the frontstretch every time or have the combination to do that. As far as us getting better, I'll say this a lot, we're still gelling as a team and getting better every week. The longer you're together, usually the better you get, and that's what we've been doing. We keep working on our problems every week and addressing them, and Ray's pretty good at that. We still want to get better. We're not happy where we're at, but we're certainly not disappointed that we're in the position we're in right now, knowing we've got what's ahead of us."

WHERE CAN YOU IMPROVE? "We not only had the spoiler change early in the year, but we also had the whole body change. We had to adapt to a lot of different things and then throw a new crew chief in our deal. We've had two or three big things to work around and adjust to. I feel like we've done a good job at that. Any time you can take the best car out there every week, the 16 is probably the best car out there right now, they'll have to continue to get better or before long they'll be on the bottom again. It's a full circle and once you go to the down side it's hard to get back up. You do go down several times throughout your career and even in a year. You'll see a team that's real hot at the beginning and not run good in the middle and all of a sudden they're real good at the end again. It's a constant deal. You've got to get better in all areas -- pit stops, engines, bodies, your whole area has to be constantly improving."

WHAT'S YOUR PLAN TO QUALIFY FOR THE CHASE? "We're hovering right here around 12th and 13th. We're going to wait until Richmond and do it again (said in jest). We want to be in solidly in the top 10 before we get there. That's what we're trying to do. You saw last week our car wasn't like we wanted it. I could have very easily wrecked or got in trouble, but we sat there and finished 14th. That's what we're doing now. We're taking our bad days and not destroying them. Take your bad days and get the best out of them you can. That's pretty much what we've been doing. We're going to continue on what we're doing. We feel like we're close. If we had two or three good runs together that would put us solidly in the top 10. Hopefully we'll be up there and not have to worry about Richmond like we did last time, but I bet somebody will be at Richmond and have to do what we did last year, I promise you. The way the points are and as close as it is, but we don't want to be in that position again. Hopefully we'll be in the top 10."

COMMENT ON THE BIG NAMES OUT OF THE TOP 10 "The big name guys ought to be in the top 10 anyway or they wouldn't have big names. That's the way I look at it. They should be able to drive their way up there no matter what. As far as us, we just want to get in the top 10 and stay there. We don't want to sit here and worry about it. We are concerned right now. We want to be in it right now. We don't want to wait until later, so we're doing everything we can do to get there. It'll be interesting to see who's in it and who's not this year."

WILL THIS BE A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU TO GAIN GROUND? "We've got the best car we've ever had here this weekend. We're excited about it, meaning the best car in the wind tunnel we've ever had. We're going in the right direction and think we've got a good shot at it. Hopefully we'll be sitting here Sunday."

COMMENT ON CREW CHIEF SLUGGER LABBE "The last I heard he was coming here. He's getting better. It's been a weird deal. Every time he thinks he's better he gets bad again. Hopefully he's over all that and will be back to 100 percent again. I'm sure he will be. It'll just take time." NOTE: Labbe was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever last week at Dover and missed last Sunday's race.

-dodge-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte