Mayfield's Dodge wins pole at Talladega JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) - Pole winner "It's really kinda a surprise. It is in one sense and not another. We unloaded this morning for practice, and I really feel like...
Mayfield's Dodge wins pole at Talladega
JEREMY MAYFIELD (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepid) - Pole winner
"It's really kinda a surprise. It is in one sense and not another. We unloaded this morning for practice, and I really feel like it's the best prepared we've been for a speedway race in a long time. I felt like the engine shop had made huge gains. It's the same car we raced at Daytona and we were able to go back and fine tune it and work on the body and massage it. The guys put in a ton of effort to turn our speedway program around. To come out here today, we were top 10 in practice, Bill and I both were. You're not sure if you're going to slow down or pick up in qualifying here at Talladega. I guess you'd say you back to the guys being prepared. They knew what we had. I really didn't know if we had a shot at the pole or not, but I felt like we were going to be in the top 10. We were able to get a good lap in and go from there. It's probably the longest qualifying session I've ever sat through. We needed this worse than anything. To sit there, we went out early and to dodge all the bullets, that sounded pretty good didn't it, dodge all the bullets, throughout the day it was pretty tough.
"It's been, as ya'll know, we struggled a little bit last year. We were up and down. I felt like going into this year this was probably the best race team I've ever been associated with the way Ray had moved our guys around. I really felt like it was going to be a great situation. It's turned out to be that. We feel like we haven't had a chance to show that. We're starting to communicate well together and things are starting to go our way. I'm not just saying that because we sat on the pole here today. I said that before qualifying. The last two or three weeks I feel like we're headed over the hump. Even though we had a little trouble at Texas last week with the caution, but we still had a great car and that's the main thing. There's been a lot of effort put in by Ray and really trying to motivate our engine shop and all the guys in the fab shop and really push hard to get our speedway program turned around. It takes a total team effort to do that, but the driving force of this deal here is Ray. I've never seen a car owner, not hard, but so aggressive on trying to get our speedway program back where it was when they first started this deal. I feel like he's made huge gains in this program turned around. It takes a total team effort to do that, but the driving force of this deal here is Ray. I've never seen a car owner, not hard, but so aggressive on trying to get our speedway program back where it was when they first started this deal. I feel like he's made huge gains in this program.
"It's kinda weird. You hear that every time you come here or Daytona. You might be fast in practice because you got a little help and didn't realize it and all of a sudden you go out to qualify and slow down and you wonder what happened. You hear that every race here. That's kinda what I was afraid of. I made my lap and as I was coming around for the second one I was waiting to hear Kenny (Francis) on the radio say we ran about the same speed we practiced. We ended up picking up, so any time you can pick up here you're going to end up with a good run, and that's certainly what we did today. As far as going out early and going out late, you think when the sun went down and got cooler, that's what I was worried about, these guys picking up. Even Bill picked up, but it just wasn't as much as we did at that point in time. I'm not sure what the deal is here. I think a lot of it has to do in practice you've got a lot of other cars on the race track. When it comes time to qualify you don't and that really shows the true colors of everybody.
"When Kenny came on the radio and said we ran a .34, I said wow because we picked up two or three tenths. I thought that was as good as you could get. If you pick up something here that's good in qualifying. I thought if we ran a .50 or .60 like we did in practice that would be a top 15. When I heard the .30, I thought that might be a top five. I knew Earnhardt Jr. ran quicker than that and Gordon and the 48. I wasn't for sure, but we started dodging everybody. I thought maybe the only person I would have to worry about was Bill. If he picked up as much as we did he's going to be a little bit better than us. There again, the weather changing or whatever happened there at the end maybe hurt him a little bit. It certainly worked out for us.
"I wouldn't say it (Newman's victory last week) lit a fire under us because the fire has been under us for a long time. The thing about it is, I'm not sure any of you are aware how involved Dodge is with their motorsports program. Coming from the Ford side of it, that's really the only side of it I had before I came here as far as Winston Cup racing goes, you hear about other manufacturers being involved, but I've never seen any organization or company involved like Dodge is. It's basically just saying, 'what can we do to help you to run better? What are your issues and what are you struggling with?' It wasn't a deal they were getting on us about anything or getting on the car owners. I think that was pretty cool when you look at all the Dodge team owners had to go up there and went to the main CEO and head of Dodge to sit there and tell you anything I can do to help, I'll do it.' That's big. That just shows the support we all have from Dodge. I'm not saying that all of a sudden we came and sat on the pole because of that or Ryan won last week because of that, but that's certainly a good feeling to know you've got a company like that behind you.
"I'm not going to say that didn't help. It certainly helped. I'll bet you right now there's a Dodge engineer working on something to help these Winston Cup teams. That means help all of us, not just the two red cars. That's pretty awesome. I'm sure they've been working their butts off up there at Dodge to get us more information, more resources to pull from, and I'll guarantee you that's helped us. Just for that one meeting alone, I'm not saying that did it, but I'll bet somewhere in the details of that meeting, that's helped us achieve what we did here today and what Ryan did last week. You just can't say enough for that. It's hard for me to sit here and tell you how much they support their racing program.
"The wind had been changing all day, and it did in practice, a crosswind. You'd have a tailwind one lap, a headwind the next. It'd like turn around on you. I don't know if that helped us, but I heard Barney Hall say on the radio that we were the only car that ran up against the wall the whole first lap. You hear Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough's names a lot on this speedway stuff, and one thing that Cale taught me a long time ago and I'm not sure if this contributed one bit but I know it's something I did different today, when you have crosswinds and stuff going on you stay close to the wall. When you don't you stay away from the wall. I did that, and I'm hoping that contributed a little bit to it. Maybe that had a little bit to do with it. I thought everybody was running that line.
"Everybody knows Ray. They know he's real intense, a winner, a racer. That's what's awesome about him. He's hard when he needs to be hard on you, and he's good to you when he should be good to you. That's the way I look at it. His way of doing that is just pushing all the time to get his race team to the next level. Times I get mad at him. You think you're doing all you can do, but then you go back and do a little bit more. That's the same way it is with a football coach or anybody else. They chew your butt out all day and you don't think you're doing anything wrong, but you go back and think about it, you think maybe you could give a little bit more. That's the type of motivator he is and the type of leader he is. His results speak for themselves. If you look back the last couple of years and look at his teams, there's not many teams out there that have been running that have done what he's done in two years. There's a lot of stuff he's accomplished in a couple of years that a lot of big teams can't touch. That says a lot for him the way he does motivate people.
"That's the big question right there. We beat them (DEI) in qualifying, but they don't ever really qualify. Everybody knows it's no secret those two cars (8 and 15) are going to be the ones to beat. I feel like we have definitely closed the gap on 'em. I remember when we came here to qualify you'd be way off. That's why I'm happy and proud of our guys for making that huge jump on our speedway program. We'll know tomorrow how good the DEI cars are going to be. They're going to be good. They're going to be tough, and they're going to be the ones to beat right up front. Starting on the pole is awesome. We'll leave here in a minute and start getting ready for practice and getting ready for Sunday. That'll be the true test. You hear a lot of drivers saying it doesn't matter where you start here. It's where you finish. You go from the back to the front, and I'm sure sometime Sunday we'll be from the front to the back and we'll be back up there. Along the way you'll have to fight the DEI cars."