NASCAR Winston Cup Goody's Headache Powders 500 Preview: #37, Jeremy Mayfield
19 August 1997
#37 Jeremy Mayfield, KMart/RC Cola Ford Thunderbird NASCAR Winston Cup Series Goody's Headache Powders 500 Advance Bristol Motor Speedway JEREMY MAYFIELD NOTES & QUOTES: GOODY'S HEADACHE POWDERS 500 BRISTOL, TN - Jeremy Mayfield and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team head to the high-banked, .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this week for Saturday night's Goody's 500. The team is coming off a disappointing 33rd-place finish last week at Michigan Speedway but with the knowledge that the last time it finished a race worse than 30th, a string of strong finishes and a jump from 20th to as high as eighth in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings followed. In fact, the race that began that string was at Bristol Motor Speedway. Since April's race at Texas, Mayfield and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team has used the next 17 races as a mark of consistency. They have completed all but eight laps since Texas (3847 of a possible 3855), behind only Mark Martin (3853) and Dale Earnhardt (3849). Now 10th in the NASCAR standings, Mayfield is within 42 points of eighth place Ted Musgrave and 39 points of ninth-place Bill Elliott. As a point of reference, 42 points represents the difference of as little as eight finishing positions in a single event. In NASCAR's last trip to Bristol, Mayfield began exhibiting the strong consistency the team has shown since. Though starting 32nd and forced to take what most teams consider the worst possible pit position (the first pit on the backstretch, immediately after turn two), they fought to a ninth-place finish on what many consider the most demanding speedway in motorsports. Crew chief Paul Andrews, 40, knows how to win at Bristol, picking up consecutive race victories with the late Alan Kulwicki in the 1991 Goody's 500 and 1992 Food City 500. Andrews is one of just six active crew chiefs with a NASCAR Winston Cup championship, having picked up that title in 1992. Mayfield, 28, is one of just two active NASCAR drivers under the age of 30 to have won more than $1.9 million in a career. The thoughts of Kmart/RC Cola Ford team sponsor Jeremy Mayfield heading into Bristol: "Heading back to the tracks where we did pretty well the first time by is a pretty comfortable feeling. We ran pretty well back in April at Bristol. We really overcame a lot. The week had started terrible. We ended up taking the very last provisional and had the very last pick for the pits. But we were able to run good all day. The guys had some terrific pit stops and we stayed on the lead lap all day long. We ran hard but we ran smart. And it paid off with a pretty good finish for us. "We're looking to improve on that this time. Besides running well at Bristol in April we learned a lot too. The car got better as the day went on and I got 500 more laps of experience down. That was a pretty important race for us. We had got caught up in that first-lap wreck at Texas the week before and, even though we ran pretty well after we got back on the track, we'd lost close to a hundred laps getting the car put back together. We needed a good run at the time and we got one. "We could use another one Saturday night, and we feel we'll get one again. Paul's had some really good runs at Bristol. To take us from the last starting position to a ninth-place finish a few months ago proves that. We're pretty excited about what we think we can do this time there with more time together and more experience together. "Qualifying is going to be really important, especially Friday night's pole qualifying. Normally in qualifying you are thinking one, 25 and 38. One is the pole, 25 is the number getting in the first round and 38 is the size of the field. At Bristol, you throw in a 19 too. There are just 19 pits on the frontstretch and you just about have to be on the frontstretch to win at Bristol. (NOTE: Only two Bristol races have been won from the backstretch pits, Dale Earnhardt in the 1995 spring race and Davey Allison in the 1990 spring race.) That makes qualifying crucial. Bristol is the kind of place where thousandths of seconds mean the difference between winning the pole and being on the frontstretch at all. "That's one of the things that makes Bristol such a cool place to run. When the blink of an eye means the difference between first and 20th, you do all you can to keep from blinking during your two qualifying laps. It's the only place I've ever seen where I had to use Murine after a qualifying run. "The race is the same way. Things happen really quick at Bristol. When you are running 15-second laps, whatever happens behind you is happening in front of you pretty fast. Your spotter is crucial. Your instincts are everything. Finishing is survival; winning is survival of the fittest. "We're ready to get back there. We think we can have a great weekend. This Kmart/RC Cola Ford bunch is ready." By Williams Company of America, Inc.