Ibsunday Notebook: /I/B Drivers Declare There Is No Intimidation

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SONOMA, Calif. -- Dale Earnhardt says the bump that cost him a victory at Pocono on Monday and put Jeremy Mayfield in the winner's circle was just racing.

Mayfield, however, is likely to get a little edgy if he sees No. 3 appear in his rearview mirror. With the laps winding down at Pocono, Mayfield borrowed a page from Earnhardt's book. He tapped the seven-time NASCAR champion on the back bumper and drove on to take the checkered flag while Earnhardt struggled to keep his car off the wall and finished fourth.

"You've got to do what you've got to do," Mayfield said Monday. "Just because people think and say he's The Intimidator, I'm not intimidated by Dale Earnhardt and never will be."

Earnhardt seemed as miffed by the dig as the ding.

"Everybody wanted to make a big deal out of it. Mayfield wanted to run his mouth about it when there was no need to run his mouth," he said. "That's fine. He can crow all he wants."

Ricky Rudd, who wound up third behind Mayfield and Dale Jarrett, called it a finesse move.

"It's easy to run over somebody and take them out, but it's a whole lot harder to do what Jeremy did when the guy that you move around is not even sure if he got hit or not. So right there, Jeremy gets a pat on the back the way he did it -- at least within the garage area," he said.

But Rudd isn't buying suggestions that Mayfield's bump means The Intimidator has an imitator.

"That intimidator crap that's been going on about Earnhardt for so long -- you guys are the ones that created that," he told reporters. "You go talk to those young guys and ask them if they're intimidated by Dale Earnhardt. That's a deal he just created to sell a bunch of T-shirts."

Jarrett on the Move: Defending Winston Cup champion Dale Jarrett credits his quiet climb in this year's standings to the dedication of his crew and a willingness to work on getting things right.

"The consistency of their pit stops is just incredible," he said. "They don't have to worry about anything but that."

In a thinly veiled jibe at the demand on drivers to make promotional appearances for their sponsors, he added, "They don't have to get up at five in the morning to do other things. They can stay focused on their jobs.

"We're learning more about working with the chassis and the new generation tire. This type of consistency got us in front for the championship last year."

Biker Dale: Dale Jarrett was honored Saturday as a media panel's choice for driver of the year.

Instead of a plaque or trophy, Jarrett received an Indian motorcycle presented by Peter Fonda, who starred in the 1969 classic "Easy Rider."

"I quit riding motorcycles when I was about 16 years old -- swore I'd never get back on one, but this may just change my mind," Jarrett said.

"I stopped racing when my daughter was born," Fonda conceded, although he still rides for fun at 60. "I was racing anything with an engine in it. And I'm a big fan of NASCAR."

The motorcycle, decorated in the red, white and blue colors of Jarrett's No. 88 Ford, is one of two made. The other will go on a promotional tour for Indian motorcycles and will be sold at auction later this year by Sotheby's with the proceeds going to a charity of Jarrett's choice.

Who's Teaching Who?: Bill Elliott, who ends his long association with Ford to join Ray Evernham's fledgling Dodge team next season says he's looking forward to the move and his new driving partner.

Casey Atwood, a 19-year-old regular on the Busch Series circuit will move up to the premium series to drive the second car in Evernham's garage.

"He's a good kid. He seems to do pretty well at other stuff. This will be a definite growing curve for him," Elliott said Sunday.

"Maybe I can teach him a few things and I'm sure he'll train me some, too. It'll be a two-way street. Teach an old dog new tricks."

He said Evernham has worked some with Elliott's Ford team since leaving as Jeff Gordon's crew chief.

"His main focus is getting his deal up and running. I might see him at a race every whipstitch or two, but that's about it."

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