St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Mayfield likes his view from the front of field

Associated Press
Published June 6, 2004

DOVER, Del. - Jeremy Mayfield has no plan to finesse anybody today at Dover International Speedway.

It will be full speed ahead for the pole-sitter in the Nextel Cup's MBNA 400.

"Track position is everything," said Mayfield, easily the fastest in qualifying Friday. "The guy that starts up front has got the lead and has got clean air all day."

To be in that position, Mayfield will have to outrace only fellow Dodge driver Ryan Newman to the first turn on The Monster Mile. After that, Mayfield can settle in and let his pursuers risk their cars on the narrow, high-banked concrete oval.

After posting a record-setting qualifying speed of 161.522 mph, Mayfield has the car to beat.

"They give me great cars, and you can't say enough about how far this team has come along," he said. "We just keep getting better and better, and that says a lot about (car owner) Ray Evernham."

Evernham's team has only four victories - all by former driver Bill Elliott - but is now hitting stride with Mayfield and rookie teammate Kasey Kahne.

"He put this deal together and worked real hard to get it where it is," Mayfield said of Evernham. "I'm real excited about the future with this team."

This is a good opportunity for Mayfield, who is 14th in points, to end a 129-race losing streak dating to 2000.

Newman certainly poses the biggest threat from his position on the outside of the front row.

He swept both races last year at Dover, and will try to become the first driver since Jeff Gordon in 1995-96 to win there three consecutive times.

Newman's approach is simple.

"My expectations are the same as they were coming into this race last year," he said. "Do our best, and doing our best got us two wins here last year."

Kahne is tied with Newman for the series lead with three poles, has three second-place finishes and is 11th in points.

"I just hope my teammate doesn't beat me," Mayfield said.

Kahne isn't offended by that.

"It's two different race teams come race day," he said.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.