NASCAR Winston Cup Brickyard 400 Preview -- #37, Jeremy Mayfield
24 July 1997
#37 Jeremy Mayfield, Kmart/RC Cola Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Winston Cup Series Brickyard 400 Advance Indianapolis Motor Speedway JEREMY MAYFIELD NOTES & QUOTES: BRICKYARD 400 'My home track and a place I've always wanted to win' INDIANAPOLIS, IN - Jeremy Mayfield has ridden a wave of strong consistency over the past 12 races, and has become a solid top-10 driver in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Now heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Brickyard 400, Saturday, August 2, Mayfield is being considered by many veteran racing observers as one of the favorites in one of NASCAR's premier events. Mayfield, 28, is a native of Owensboro, Ky., who now considers Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his home track. The youngest member of the "Kentucky Boys" - the gang of five Winston Cup drivers from Owensboro - Mayfield is easily having the best season, ranked ninth in the NASCAR standings - and just 29 points behind eighth-place Ricky Rudd - as well as two top-five and six top-10 finishes. He and Gordon are the only two active NASCAR drivers under the age of 30 to have won more than $1.8 million in a career. Yet, it is the last 12 races - since the race at Texas in April - that Mayfield has really shined, and the Paul Andrews-led Kmart/RC Cola Ford team truly began to gel. No driver has come further in the standings - from 20th after Texas to ninth going into Indianapolis. Mayfield has completed 3399 of a possible 3405 laps during that span of races, second only to Martin's 3403 and Earnhardt's 3401. Mayfield and Earnhardt are the only drivers to have finished in the top 20 of the last seven races. Since Texas, Mayfield is seventh in NASCAR Winston Cup points accumulated. The thoughts of Kmart/RC Cola Ford driver Jeremy Mayfield heading into Indianapolis: "When it comes to Indianapolis, I guess people would naturally think of other drivers but the guys from Owensboro are as close to Indy as any track on the circuit. Sure, none of us grew up racing Indianapolis but I guarantee you all of us thought about Indy when we were growing up. How could you not? Racing bicycles or, later, go-karts, everybody pretended they were winning the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500. There wasn't a Brickyard 400 at the time but, if there had been, I guarantee you we would have been pretending to win that too. I bet plenty of kids these days dream of winning the Brickyard the same way they dream of winning Daytona or the 500 at Indianapolis. "There is a mystique to Indy. I think everybody feels it. Sure, you can go up there and say, 'Hey, this is just another race,' but I can't believe anybody can say that and really believe it. Man, it's Indianapolis! You can feel it long before you get in the car. There is an electricity about the place. It's the same kind of feeling you get at a Daytona or a Darlington. There is a real history to the place. You know what's gone on before you got there, and you know some pretty great things will happen long after you're gone. Every race is important and every race is pretty exciting. There is no comparison to hearing "Gentlemen, start your engines," and hearing your engine and 41 others roar to life. And that's the case no matter where it is or what kind of racing it is. I get the same butterflies now that I got when I cranked my late model stock. But places like Indianapolis are just a little bit different. It's not always easy to explain how they are different. They're just different. "When you've been running like this Kmart/RC Cola Ford team has been running this year, it's hard not to be excited to get to the next race, no matter where it is. By the same token, we've run pretty well on the flatter tracks and we feel that gives us something of an edge at Indianapolis. The turns at Pocono are something like the turns at Indianapolis, flat and fast. And we ran pretty well at Pocono both races. We were fifth in the first one, and we really had at least a top-five car last week in the second one. The engine developed a miss early in the race and that made things kind of tough on us, but we had a great car and everybody worked hard to get done what we needed to get done. Too, the oil box cover behind the driver's seat worked loose, and that heated the seat terribly. I'm fine but it did take a toll on my back. We had to throw rags behind me all day long. That's the hottest I've ever been in a race car. Man, with 20 laps to go, I was thinking about crawling into a hot oven just to cool off. "We've been consistent and we've been a good consistent. That's what it takes to win in this sport. To be a solid contender week in and week out is the key to not only winning races but to being strong in the points. You have to finish, and we've finished all but two races this season. You have to be in the lead lap at the end, and we have been in the lead lap at the end of six of the last seven races. You have to stay out of trouble, and we've done a pretty good job with that. I can't think of a more consistent driver and team than Ricky Rudd, and we're just 29 points behind him in the standings. That's not much (NOTE: 29 points represents the difference of as little as four positions in a single race). "That consistency is what we've been working on. Paul Andrews teams have always been known for that. Look at what Geoff Bodine did the second half of last season with Paul. Look at what Alan Kulwicki did with Paul. And look at what we've been able to accomplish so far. I wouldn't trade this Kmart/RC Cola crew for anybody. Our pit stops have been great, and our pit strategy has been great. I have good race cars every week. That builds a whole lot of confidence, me in them and them in me. "We'll keep on moving forward. Indianapolis is a great track with a great tradition, and we want to do well there. But when we leave, we're going to want to do just as well at Watkins Glen and Michigan and all of that rest of the races. This is a long-term team with a good long-term plan. That makes a driver awfully excited to be at the track." By Williams Company of America, Inc.