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NASCAR Winston Cup CMT 300 Preview: #37, Jeremy Mayfield

10 September 1997

 #37 Jeremy Mayfield, Kmart/RC Cola Ford Thunderbird       
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 CMT 300 Advance
 New Hampshire International Speedway
           'The difference between 10th and 11th is enormous'

LOUDON, NH - Undoubtedly the most interesting points battle currently, Jeremy 
Mayfield and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team is in the thick of a four-car chase 
for eighth in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Just 80 points separate 
eighth-place Bill Elliott from Mayfield, with Ted Musgrave and Ricky Rudd 
stacked in the middle of them. As a point of reference, 80 points represents 
the difference of as few as 20 positions in a single race.

Mayfield is coming off a 10th-place finish in Saturday night's Exide 400 at 
Richmond, Va. The Kmart/RC Cola Ford appeared headed to as high as a 
fifth-place finish in that race before the right rear began leaking air with 
about six laps left in the event. The tire went completely flat at the white 
flag but Mayfield muscled the car back for a 10th-place finish.

The 28-year-old is one of just two active NASCAR drivers under the age of 30 
to have won more than $2 million in a career. Though the youngest member of 
the "Kentucky Boys" - the group of five Winston Cup and one Busch Grand 
National driver from Owensboro, Ky. - Mayfield is the undisputed leader, 
having by far the best season of the five. He came to the Kmart/RC Cola Ford 
just over a year ago; last week's Richmond event marking his one-year 
anniversary with the team.

Crew chief Paul Andrews, 40, a native of Bangor. Me., is one of just six 
active crew chiefs to have won a NASCAR Winston Cup championship. His came in 
1992 with the late Alan Kulwicki. Andrews joined the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team 
in December.

The thoughts of Kmart/RC Cola Ford driver Jeremy Mayfield heading into New 

"I guess a battle for the championship is the ultimate but this is a pretty 
good fight we have going on between the four of us right now. It's 
flip-flopped a few times and nobody has really been able to pull away so far.

"For me it's great experience. Points are just as important to these four 
teams right now as they are for Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett. 
(Johnny) Benson, (Ken) Schrader and Rusty (Wallace) sure aren't out of the 
picture either. This Kmart/RC Cola Ford team plans on being in some points 
battles for championships down the road, so everything we can learn here is a 
great deal for us, especially for me. Paul has been in these before with Alan 
Kulwicki. (Car chief) Buddy Barnes and (engineer) Nick Ollila have been in 
these before (both with Wallace). I've never been in one, but this is a lot 
of fun.

"The one thing I'm learning is how these guys bear down more and more the 
later we get into the season. Watching guys like Bill Elliott and Ricky Rudd 
race for points is something to see. They never seem to get rattled. They 
never seem to have much trouble. If they get a bad break, they just shake it 
off and make the most out of it they can. No doubt Gordon and Mark (Martin) 
and Dale (Jarrett) are doing the same thing but what I can see from Elliott 
and Musgrave and Rudd from my vantage point is pretty interesting to watch.

"There's a lot on the line for everyone. You finish in the top 10 and you go 
on stage at the banquet (the NASCAR Winston Cup Awards Banquet in New York 
City). You finish 11th and you watch it from your seat. I mean, the ultimate 
has to be going up on stage and picking up the championship trophy. But for 
me right now, it would mean a whole lot to go up on that stage at all.

"It's more than just the banquet. The difference between 10th and eleventh is 
like buying something for $19.95 and something for twenty dollars. It's just 
all the difference in the world. Tenth is the big time; 11th is almost there. 
I've never been in one of these before and I'm really hungry for it. But 
watching Elliott, a guy who knows what it's like to win the championship and 
knows what it's like to win things like the Winston Million, I know that he 
is as hungry for the top 10 as anybody out here. If it's a question of 
desire, nobody wants it more than me. Guys like Elliott and Rudd are pretty 
close seconds, though.

"New Hampshire is going to be a key race but all of the rest of them are 
going to be key races. We know going in we have to get this Kmart/RC Cola 
Ford in the top 10. We have to run all day and stay out of trouble. We ran 
pretty well there in July but had a couple of handling problems and then had 
a throttle start hanging up on us. Without those kind of problems, we had a 
top 10 car. We think we'll have a top 10 car this time by too. We ran this 
same car at Richmond and had a really good night with it. It was a top five 
car at Richmond. It can be that good at New Hampshire.

"This Kmart/RC Cola Ford team is going to be going as hard as it can go. That 
much I know for sure."

By Williams Company of America, Inc.