Work in Sports
A DNF, again
When we finish, we are as strong as anyone
Updated: Sunday October 22, 2000 1:40 PM
I had some friends and a few relatives at Talladega this past weekend but they had a rough time. Oh, we had fun and it was good seeing everyone but the race was hard on them because our car had a lot of different colors on it.
If you've been watching the Mobil 1 Taurus over the years, that white and blue with the red Pegasus on the side is pretty easy to spot. We've added a lot of new reds and swirls and everything with a new paint scheme for a couple of races, and it's different enough that it's hard to spot sometimes.
Still, it's pretty cool having the World Series logos on our car, knowing that we are a little part of one of the biggest sporting events in the country. There were a couple of executives from Major League Baseball at the race Sunday, and I hope they had a good time. I wish we could have stayed out there a little longer and showed them something, but we had a problem with a valve spring and had to park it early.
Now, it's off to Rockingham and one more shot to win in the World Series car. You see, unless you are Bobby Labonte, the season has gotten really short all of the sudden. I know Bobby and those guys don't think the season can end soon enough. The rest of us, well, we need every bit of it.
There have been some changes with our team the past couple of weeks but one thing that hasn't changed is how much we want to win races and how much we want to run well.
We've been working hard all season long, and one thing we have done is win some races. We feel like we should have won more than the two we have won, but two wins has been a lot this season.
I know there are a lot of teams out there who would like to trade with us. We think we can come back and win one or two more before this season is out. The four tracks that are left have always been good ones for us, and the one coming up this week (Rockingham) has been one of our best. We feel we're capable of winning there, and we've been close several times. And we feel like we're capable of winning Phoenix, Homestead and Atlanta too.
We've run as good as anybody, and better than just about everybody. When we've been able to finish, our finishes have been great. Look at Charlotte. We ran great all day and came within a few laps of winning that thing (finished second). Most of the races where we didn't finish, everybody knew we had been there.
We were the best car at both Dover races this year, and I think everybody agrees we were the team to beat. But we weren't able to finish the races, so somebody else won. We had a great car at Michigan, especially in June, and the rain messed us up. You can look at a ton of races all year where we were good, we just need to get the finishes down pat.
Luck has had a lot to do with that too. We won the first Pocono and should have won the second Pocono too. Remember, we had the thing done coming out of the second turn when that tire cut down. Without the problem, we win the race. At Darlington, we were the car to beat and I had a problem coming out of the fourth turn. We were the best there, and we think we would have won that race. Those kinds of things, nobody's fault and hard to prevent, have cost us a few more wins.
The downside of all of that is pretty obvious -- we didn't win races we should have won.
The upside is we know we're better than the record shows. We know we can win and we can win regularly. This team has been coming for some time now, and we're running a little better and a little better. What we've been doing is working hard on our stuff, experimenting here and there, and working to get better with everything.
Once we knew the championship was pretty well out for us, we started working on the 2001 championship. We started getting everything in place for the future. We didn't give up on 2000 because we still wanted to win poles and to win races but, as far as points were concerned, we were looking at running as hard as we could run and seeing how much we could do. What we've ended up seeing is a pretty good race team.
We want at least one more win before this year is out. We think this Mobil 1 team has what it takes to win and win consistently. A win or two in the last four races would set us up pretty nicely to start 2001. And we think we're already ready to go for next year.
Jeremy Mayfield, a three-time winner in the Winston Cup Series, is in his third season driving the Mobil 1 Ford Taurus for Penske Racing. His diary appears weekly on CNNSI.com.