NASCAR Winston Cup Bud at Watkins Glen Preview: #37, Jeremy Mayfield
5 August 1997
#37 Jeremy Mayfield, KMart/RC Cola Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Winston Cup Series The Bud at the Glen Watkins Glen International JEREMY MAYFIELD NOTES & QUOTES: THE BUD AT THE GLEN WATKINS GLEN, NY - Under a unique set of circumstances, Kmart/RC Cola Ford crew chief Paul Andrews will be the defending champion this week when NASCAR's Winston Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for Sunday's Bud At The Glen. Andrews, one of five active crew chiefs to have won a NASCAR national championship (he did so with the late Alan Kulwicki in 1992), Andrews also took driver Geoff Bodine to his sole road course victory a year ago in this event. A return to victory lane isn't out of the question. The Kmart/RC Cola Ford team and driver Jeremy Mayfield, have shown one of the most consistently successful runs of the season since the Easter break. While his background of the short tracks around his Owensboro, Ky., and, later in life, Nashville, Tenn., homes might not attest, Mayfield has developed as a road course racer. In the season's first road race, May's event at Sonoma, Calif., he moved from a provisional starting spot to 17th by the midway point of the event before a shifter hung up and cost him any more positions. Andrews and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team left Sonoma with a very positive attitude towards the next road race. Why not? On short tracks, superspeedways and intermediate speedways, Mayfield, Andrews and the team have shown tremendous prowess and consistency, especially since the Easter break. Since April's event at Fort Worth, Tex. - 13 races at 12 different speedways - Mayfield is second only to Mark Martin in laps completed. Mayfield has completed 3559 of a possible 3565 laps, while Martin has completed 3563. Mayfield's current string of eight top 20 finishes is the longest current streak in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. He has, for the season, three top-five and seven top-10 finishes. In the two most prestigious events of 1997, Mayfield was fifth in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and sixth in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Since that Texas race, Mayfield has moved from 20th in ninth in the NASCAR standings, and has accumulated the seventh highest number of points in those 13 events. Mayfield, 28, now has career money-winnings of $1,942,877. He will, possibly as soon as the event at Watkins Glen, become the second active driver under the age of 30 to have won more than $2 million in a career. Andrews, 40, joined the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team in December. The thoughts of Kmart/RC Cola Ford crew chief Paul Andrews heading into Watkins Glen: "You have to think positively. The way things have been going for us it's hard to not think pretty positively going into any race. That's not to say we're cocky because we're not. We've still got a ways to go before we can consider thinking like that. Plus, it's too easy for the wrong things to happen at the wrong time in this sport. I've seen guys leading races, looking like they've got everybody covered and figuring they'll even be the first car out of the parking lot after Victory Lane and, next thing you know, somebody spins in front of them and their day is over. You can be fifth with five laps to go and, should something happen, find yourself 35th in the last five minutes of a race. But we feel we've got some odds on our side too. "Everything really seemed to start clicking for us at Texas. We got caught up in that wreck right at the first of the race and we lost 70-something laps because of that. Everybody busted it in the garage and we got the sheet metal pulled away and went back out. The car was pretty good. Now, nobody is so good they are going to make up 70 laps but we saw we had a pretty good car. The guys kept working hard, and we had some really good pit stops too. We made up 10 positions by going back out and, believe me, those 30 points will pay off at the end of the season. But most importantly, we ran really well. "We followed that up with good, solid runs at Bristol and Martinsville. We finished in the top 10 in both of those races, and that helped us a lot points-wise. More importantly, it helped us a lot confidence-wise. The guys gave us some tremendous pit stops, especially at Martinsville where we picked up nine positions in the pits. We had a little bad luck at a few races but we were able to come back with a good job by the driver and good work in the pits to make up for the bad luck and have decent finishes. The (June) runs at Dover (finished fourth) and Pocono (finished fifth) picked our confidence level up another notch, and it really gave us a boost in the standings. We've run pretty solidly since then, and that fifth at Indianapolis a couple of days ago gave us another great shot in the arm. "I think Jeremy showed he has great potential as a road racer at Sears Point in May. We didn't qualify particularly well but we kept working and got the car pretty decent, and he drove as hard as he could drive. We had some bad luck there, the shifter hung up and that wasn't anybody's fault. But it cost us what we think could have been a very solid top 10, if not even better than that. Knowing what we know about Sears Point and knowing what we know of how Jeremy has run road courses in the past, we feel pretty confident about Watkins Glen. "It's not particularly strange going there as a defending champion crew chief while Geoff (Bodine) goes there as a defending champion driver. I'm as happy for him now as I was for him a year ago when I was working for him. But we've got our sights set on beating him this year; not just him but as many others as we can too. That 'defending champion' stuff only will take you so far. I don't think anybody is going to hit their knees and genuflect when I walk through the gates. (Laughing) It would be nice but I don't think it's going to happen. "Driver is going to make a lot of difference at Watkins Glen but I'm really happy we'll be there with the driver we have. We'll set up the car a little more right-sided than we did at Sears Point, mainly because there are mostly right-hand turns at the Glen. But, all in all, it'll be pretty close to that Sears Point setup. We feel pretty good about heading up there and what this Kmart/RC Cola Ford team is capable of doing." The thoughts of Kmart/RC Cola Ford driver Jeremy Mayfield heading into Watkins Glen: "The way I look at it, no crew chief but Paul Andrews has won a Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen in two years now. That will make a driver feel pretty good going into any race track. I know he and the guys are going to give me the best car they can give me, and I'm going to do my part the best I can. "Nothing can make a driver feel better than having the confidence I have in the guys on this Kmart/RC Cola Ford team. I know my car is going to be good and, if we have work to do to make it good, they'll do the work and make it good. I know I'm going to have good pit stops. I know they are doing everything they can to make this car as good as they can make it. And I like to think they have the same confidence in me, that I'm doing my best all the time and working with them to make the car as good as it can be. "I didn't grow up on road courses and, when I was a kid, I didn't lay there and dream of zipping through the esses and blasting through the chicane. I mean, my dreams were steep banks and blasting down backstretches. But I like road courses and like running them. It's like some of those video games. You always start with the oval stuff because it's what you're used to, but you usually head to the road courses sooner or later. It's a challenge. It's fun. How many opportunities do you get to take a 3,400-pound piece of metal and throw it through a turn? Well, I guess we'll get 90 opportunities through the horseshoe at Watkins Glen but it's a real challenge for a driver. "That's one of the things that makes the Winston Cup and makes running for the points so special. If you're going to be like Earnhardt or Petty - or Paul Andrews - and win championships, you can't specialize. You have to be good everywhere. The pay the same amount of points at Watkins Glen as they do Daytona or Indy or anywhere else. Lose your focus on that at any track, and you're going to be in a lot of trouble really quickly. "We're not losing our focus. We know where we are and we know where we're headed. We're ready for the next level. Hey, I can dance in Victory Lane just as long at Watkins Glen as I can anywhere else." By Williams Company of America, Inc.