NASCAR Winston Cup Jiffy Lube 300 Preview -- #37, Jeremy Mayfield
8 July 1997
#37 Jeremy Mayfield, RC Cola Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Winston Cup Series Jiffy Lube 300 Advance New Hampshire International Speedway JEREMY MAYFIELD NOTES & QUOTES: JIFFY LUBE 300 LOUDON, NH - Ninth in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings and the driver of the series' third-most consistent team over the last 10 races, Jeremy Mayfield and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team head to New Hampshire International Speedway this week for Sunday's Jiffy Lube 300. This is the site where, three years ago, Mayfield moved into his first top NASCAR ride, taking the wheel of Cale Yarborough's car. Since then, his rise from "what is Cale doing?" to Ford's probable answer to the Jeff Gordon phenomenon has been rapid. Mayfield, 28, and Jeff Gordon are the only active drivers in NASCAR Winston Cup racing under the age of 30 to have won more than $1.7 million in a career. Mayfield is also being led by one of the sport's top crew chiefs, 40-year-old Paul Andrews - a native of Maine - who is one of just five active crew chiefs to have won a NASCAR Winston Cup championship, his coming in 1992 with the late Alan Kulwicki. Definitely of note: Kulwicki's first career victory came at Phoenix, Ariz., a one-mile, flat track incredibly similar to the New Hampshire facility. The Kulwicki/Andrews team was known for its consistency, something the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team have shown a tremendous amount of since the Easter break. Over the past 10 NASCAR Winston Cup races, Mayfield has completed all but five laps - 2,900 of 2,905 - third only to Mark Martin (2,904) and Dale Earnhardt (2,900). The thoughts of Kmart/RC Cola Ford driver Jeremy Mayfield heading into New Hampshire: "New Hampshire wasn't particularly kind to me or to the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team last year but I don't think that's going to have a huge bearing on what happens this year. I guess these guys got caught up in a wreck early in the race that ended their day. I got caught up in one later in the race and that ended the day for me. "Good or bad, it's hard to look back at last year and see any correlation to this year. A lot of the same guys from a year ago are still with this Kmart/RC Cola Ford team but there have been a lot of pretty key changes. I came to the team in September. (Crew chief) Paul Andrews came to the team in December. Kranefuss-Haas Engineering (chief engineer Nick Ollila) started a new car program at the first of the year and we got our first car out in May. So we've come a long way in a short period of time. As for last year, well, that was last year. "We've had some good runs so far this year. About the time we got back from the Easter break, it seemed like things started working for us. We got caught up in somebody else's wreck at Texas and lost 70-something laps repairing the car, but we ran pretty well once we got back on the track. The thing is, nobody paid much attention to that but us. We came back with top-10 finishes at Bristol and Martinsville, and about that time we started feeling we were on the verge of something. We've been moving forward ever since. "Flat. What else could you say about New Hampshire? Handling is everything. The car that handles the best and has some pretty decent power with it is going to be the car to beat. The ability to find the lowest fast line and hold that most of the day is what separates the winning drivers from the back of the pack people. You can't stand to be tight in the turns but you can only afford to be fast-loose in a couple of places. "Paul (Andrews) and I have been communicating pretty well, and that communication is going to be really important to a good run at New Hampshire. I can tell him what I'm feeling and he can either play on that or fix it, making us get around the track that much quicker. The teams that are winning regularly are the ones who have that great communication. Look at Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham or Terry Labonte and Gary DeHart or Mark Martin and Steve Hmiel. These guys know each other, know what each other means when they talk, know everything about each other practically. That kind of driver-crew chief relationship builds winners, and it's the kind of relationship Paul and I are building along with the rest of the team. When the time comes that I begin a sentence and Paul ends it, I know we'll be close. When the times comes either one of us begins a sentence on something like Anaconda mating habits and the other one completes it, then I'll know we're there. "We're looking forward to going to New Hampshire, and it has more to do with it thaN just the lobsters. We feel we can run well there. Paul was with Geoff Bodine last year; they qualified seventh and finished 15th, so he has a pretty good idea of how to get a car around the place. Phoenix is a lot like New Hampshire and we moved right to the front at Phoenix last year before we had a motor problem. In other words, we have everything we need for a good New Hampshire run. That always makes you feel good about a place. "Plus, it's a great area. It's a nice place to visit and it's an important market for our sport. The people of New Hampshire and Boston waited a long time for a Winston Cup race and it's pretty obvious they appreciate us being there. Besides packing the grandstands, you see them all over. They know a lot about you, whether you are Darrell Waltrip or Jeremy Mayfield or whoever. They know your background, how your year has gone, and everything about your race team. That's a pretty nice feeling when somebody goes to that much trouble to know something about you, but that's how much they love their racing up there. "The market is really important to the series too. I'm 28 years old and I've been thinking about being at this point in Winston Cup racing for 15 years. I realize for me to keep racing, and for all of those other young guys who are in ARCA or Busch or go-karts even, for them to keep racing, this series needs to be in big markets like this. I know this area is important to the people at Kmart and RC Cola and Kleenex and Bandai and all of our other sponsors. Maybe it's a long trip from North Carolina but these people from New Hampshire were making long trips all over the country before to see us race before. Man, I appreciate that. I appreciate what the Bahres have done with this speedway and I appreciate what the people of the area have done. "We're ready to get to New Hampshire. This Kmart/RC Cola Ford team could have one of its best runs ever." By Williams Company of America, Inc.