Talladega II: Jeremy Mayfield preview

WHAT ROLE DOES DRIVER PLAY AT TALLADEGA? "We really don't have to do a lot in qualifying except sit there and hold the wheel and be smooth and stuff like that. In the race you have to have a good car, good equipment and good stops -- all ...

WHAT ROLE DOES DRIVER PLAY AT TALLADEGA?

"We really don't have to do a lot in qualifying except sit there and hold the wheel and be smooth and stuff like that. In the race you have to have a good car, good equipment and good stops -- all the normal stuff. You stay in line, so you're part of it in one sense and not in the other. If you don't have a good car to drive you can't make up the difference, and if you do have a good car the driver has to be in position in the right place, so I think it's kind of equal. You're kind of stuck with what you've got. It's hard to tell there, really. You hear both sides of the story, but I'd say it really depends on the whole package."

BEING SHUFFLED BACK AT THE END AT TALLADEGA

"That's happened several times to me, and I've learned a lot over the years about speedway races. I learned a lot from Dale Earnhardt. I followed him a lot in those speedway races and learned what he'd do and wouldn't do. I know at the end of the race you want to be in a certain spot, and there's certain spots you don't want to be in because you can get hung out. That'll happen to you. Instead of having a shot to win, you'll end up 15th or 20th. That's definitely happened to me. That's something you don't like, but it goes along with the deal. There's times when I barely lost a race at Talladega and ended up 13th or something, but you could have thrown a blanket over all of us at the start-finish line. I've got mixed feelings on Talladega about that and speedway racing, but that's part of it."

NEW CAUTION RULES AT TALLADEGA

"I guess you could say this weekend is going to be the determining factor. As far as last weekend goes, I was sitting there and could have won the race, should have won the race. It's going to benefit you at times, and it's not going to benefit you at times. People are going to have mixed feelings about it. I think Talladega is going to be a situation where things might come up that NASCAR hasn't been thinking about. It might be vice versa, things come up that we weren't thinking about as drivers. This weekend will definitely be the test for it, and I'm all for it. That's part of it. It's give and take for everybody, and we try to live with it and try to modify things until they get it right. That's all you can ask for. That's the next thing that could happen (reverting back to last lap after caution comes out). Some series already do it. One thing that you could do is when the caution comes out go straight to the scoring monitor. Even though we're all bunched up at Talladega and Daytona, it still shows exactly what order we're running in. I'm sure they'll have it worked out before we get there. I'm not sure what the answer is by any means, but there are going to be days when guys don't like it. And the guys that are complaining about it, a couple of weeks later, they might benefit from it. It's just going to be a Catch-22 you might say. We'll get it all worked out. I'm sure things will come up they'd like to change. That's just part of it."

RACE NOTES

Jeremy Mayfield is scheduled to drive chassis No. 35, which he drove to the pole position at Talladega in April and raced to an eighth-place finish at Daytona in February.

STATS & FACTS

CAREER AT TALLADEGA

This weekend's race marks Mayfield's 302nd career start in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and 19th career visit to Talladega Superspeedway. Mayfield has three poles, one top-five, one top-10 and has led seven races for a total of 43 laps at the track. Mayfield made his fourth career Winston Cup Series start at Talladega in May of 1994 when he started 24th and retired early in the 37th spot after being collected in an accident.

2003 TALLADEGA POLE POSITION

Mayfield earned his seventh career pole position, and his first for Evernham Motorsports, in this year's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. The pole was Mayfield's third at Talladega, and makes him one of only three active drivers who have scored three or more poles at the track (Sterling Marlin - three, Bill Elliott - eight). The pole was Mayfield's first since starting up front in the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway in October 2000. All seven of Mayfield's Bud Poles have been earned on superspeedways (Talladega, Darlington, Dover, Rockingham, and Texas).

POLE-HAPPY AT TALLADEGA

Mayfield also earned his first career Bud Pole award at Talladega (DieHard 500 - 7/28/96), making him the only active driver to have earned his first career pole at the track. Mayfield earned his second Talladega pole (third overall) in April of 2000, and his third pole (seventh overall) this April. Talladega is the only racetrack that Mayfield has repeated as pole-winner.

HOT STREAK

Mayfield has posted five consecutive finishes of 11th or better, including his season bests (second at Richmond and Dover).

ALMOST !!

Mayfield's second-place finish last weekend at Dover marked his second top-five and eighth top-10 of 2003. The runner-up finish was the eighth of Mayfield's career and second in the last three races.

THAT'S WORTH FIVE POINTS

Mayfield has led laps in his last three starts at Talladega. Of the seven Talladega events that Mayfield has led laps in, he has assumed the lead spot in four spring races and three fall ones.

WINSTON CUP POINTS RACE

Mayfield's flourish of impressive finishes has propelled him into the 22nd position in the Winston Cup points standings. He moves up three spots after his second-place finish at Dover, just four points out of 21st and 56 out of the top-20.

MOST RECENT RUN AT TALLADEGA

In April Mayfield maintained the top spot until the "big one" collected 27 cars on lap four at Talladega. The amount of debris on the track sent Mayfield into the pits on lap eight to change four tires. Twenty-six of the 43 cars in the field restarted the race once the track was cleared from the wreck. Mayfield sat in the 16th spot. He restarted 12th after a caution for debris on lap 36, and by lap 48, he was in the lead once again. Mayfield worked his Dodge in the draft for more than 30 laps until the No. 15 car spun into him, forcing Mayfield into the pits several times to repair the damage to the driver's side, including the left front fender. The Dew Crew was able to keep Mayfield competitive, losing only one lap in the attempt to repair the damage. He finished 18th after earning his first pole position for Evernham Motorsports.

LAST WEEKEND

Qualifying was cancelled due to the effects of Hurricane Isabel last weekend at Dover, and Mayfield started the race 25th based upon owners' points. He wasted little time moving up through the field. The No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge used only a slight air pressure adjustment during the course of the 400-lap event. Kenny Francis and the Dew Crew gave Mayfield a car that showed its prowess on the track, mowing down the competition all day long. By lap 68 Mayfield was cruising outside the top 10 in 11th place. He continued to move up through the field and was in the top 10 by lap 80 when he pitted for four tires and no changes to his No. 19 Dodge. At the midway point of the race, Mayfield remained in the ninth position. He assumed the second-place position on lap 256. He continued to stalk the top spot but several late cautions bunched up the field and set up different calls on pit road including some two-tire stops. Mayfield was in fifth place on lap 288 but wasted little time working his way back to the front. A caution on lap 325 brought him in for the last pit stop of the day for fuel and tires. A call to stay out with less than 40 laps to go kept Mayfield in the second spot and set up a race to the finish that that had the crowd standing on its feet.

WINSTON CUP CAREER RECORD

Coming into this weekend's EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Mayfield has made 301 starts, with seven poles (three at Talladega and one at Darlington, Dover, Rockingham, and Texas), three wins (two at Pocono, and one at California), 37 top-fives and 70 top-10s. His most recent win came at Pocono in June of 2000.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Jeremy Mayfield , Sterling Marlin