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NASCAR Winston Cup Series DieHard 500 Preview: #37, Jeremy Mayfield

7 October 1997

 #37 Jeremy Mayfield, Kmart/RC Cola Ford Thunderbird     
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 DieHard 500 Advance     
 Talladega Superspeedway 
                   'Bad decisions can ruin your day'

TALLADEGA, AL - Now 10th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings with four
races remaining and locked in a torrid battle among seven drivers for
the position, Jeremy Mayfield and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford team head to
the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) SuperSpeedway this week for Sunday's
DieHard 500.

Though the youngest and least experienced driver among the seven
battling from ninth to 15th, Mayfield is still considered one of the
favorites to gain one of the two coveted top 10 positions. Ted
Musgrave is ninth with 3192 points, 60 in front of Mayfield's 3132. As
a point of reference, 60 points is represented by as few as 13
finishing positions in a single event. Just 138 points separate
Musgrave from 15th-place Ernie Irvan (3054). The seven drivers in the
group have a combined total of 60 years of full-season experience
coming into this year: Mayfield represents just two of those years.

Mayfield, 28, is easily having the best season of the famed "Kentucky
Boys," the group of drivers from Owensboro, Ky., who compete on the
NASCAR Winston Cup circuit. He is one of just two active drivers under
the age of 30 to have won more than $2 million in a career and will,
at some point this year, become the second-youngest driver to ever win
more than $1 million in a single year.  Even with his lack of
comparable experience, Mayfield has enjoyed a solidly consistent
season. Led by crew chief Paul Andrews - one of just six active crew
chiefs with a NASCAR Winston Cup championship - the Kmart/RC Cola Ford
has had three top fives and eight top 10 finishes. Mayfield had two
top fives and three top 10s in his career prior to this season.

The Kmart/RC Cola Ford team had one of the strongest cars at Talladega
in the race this May before dropping a cylinder midway through the
race. Mayfield won the pole in this race a year ago, while driving for
Cale Yarborough. Mayfield and the Kmart/RC Cola Ford both led this
race last season.

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

"This might sound kind of silly to some people but I've got one thing
that nobody else has and, from what they tell me, never will have. My
picture was on the cover of a Saturday edition of USA Today. I have it
framed in my rec room. At the time of the Talladega race back in July
of last year, the Olympics were going on in Atlanta and that paper was
doing a Saturday edition. After we won the pole at Talladega, my
picture ended up on the cover of the newspaper. They tell me I'll be
the only driver ever to have my picture on the front page of a
Saturday edition of USA Today.

"We're pretty anxious to get this Kmart/RC Cola Ford back there. This
team ran really well in both races at Talladega last year, and we felt
like we had a super car back in May. We had a little bad luck and that
cost us what could have been a great finish.

"We're going to need good finishes the rest of the way out. There are
a lot of really good drivers and really good race teams in the hunt to
finish in the top 10. It's starting to look like a lot of the
excitement might be going as far as the championship is concerned,
even though that could sure change in a hurry, but there are seven of
us who have a heck of a fight going on. We know we could finish ninth
and, maybe, even better than that. And we know we could finish
15th. The top 10 are the ones who go on the stage at the banquet in
New York. The top 10 are the ones who get remembered for what they've
done. I mean, I hear guys introduced and you hear, 'A top 10 finisher
in the Winston Cup standings last year..." You don't hear them
cheering for the top 11 very often.

"That's one of our main goals right now, finishing in the top 10 of
the points. We've pretty much revised our goals since the first of the
season.  Back then, we were figuring the top 15 would be a great
accomplishment. If we finish 15th now, we're going to be pretty
disappointed. We're still thinking pretty hard about winning a race
too. It's going to be tougher now with just four races left, but those
are at four pretty good tracks for us. We've shown we can be pretty
good at Talladega, and we were as fast as anybody at Phoenix before we
ran into problems last year. We had solid runs at Rockingham and
Atlanta the first time by, and it will be the third time I've run
those tracks with this team. So we could win before the year is
out. And we feel really good about our chances for the top 10.

"We're focused on Talladega right now. You really go into Talladega
looking at it as two totally difference races. On Friday, everything
is focused on qualifying. The racing starts in Saturday morning's
practice. If you are using Saturday morning's practice for qualifying,
you know you're going to be in trouble.

"Sometimes I wonder why they even bother using drivers for
qualifying. Maybe they should give us the day off or
something. Qualifying is a crew's race, unless the driver screws
up. When you qualify at Talladega, there is absolutely nothing the
driver can do to make the car go faster. All you can do is mess them
up. That's probably the reason you always see some pretty uptight
drivers on Friday there. Your job is to step on the gas, take a good
line and bring the car back.

"Sunday is a different story. There is a lot of driver in the race but
a lot of what the driver does depends on what other drivers do. Let's
face it. All you can do with your feet is mash the gas all the way to
the floor. The brake pedal is there just for show. You can't lift, you
can't brake. How well you do depends a whole lot on how well you
choose. Bad decisions are disaster. You and the spotter work together,
trying to decide which line is faster. Sure, you have to have a really
good car but you're spending a lot of time depending on other cars in
the draft. Pick the wrong line, you lose. Pick the wrong car to
follow, you lose. Go with the wrong guy, you lose. You have to take
chances if you're going to win but the punishment for a bad decision
is a ton of track position.

"This Kmart/RC Cola Ford team is ready for Talladega. It's going to be
a very key race for us as far as the points are concerned. We think we
have a chance of really looking great there."

By Williams Company of America