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 JEREMY MAYFIELD NOTES & QUOTES: CMT 300 '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 Hampshire: "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.