Mayfield Leaves The 12 Car
October 2, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The team issued a two-sentence statement announcing the move, effective immediately. A driver for this weekend’s UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will be named later this week.
A team spokesman said Tuesday morning Penske Racing would have no further comment.
The move comes two days after Mayfield finished 36th in Sunday’s Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway. Mayfield wasn’t pleased with the team’s decision to take an older car and publicly expressed his displeasure.
“I wish I knew. It’s been like that since we’ve been here,” Mayfield said of his poor performance at Kansas. “First of all, you can’t bring a ‘98 model car that we brought here. This is a short-track car that has no business being here at Kansas.
“You can’t come here and run with these guys like that. You’ve got to have the right stuff. Unfortunately, I guess we didn’t have a car ready so we had to bring this one. (Chassis No.) 10 is one that shouldn’t be here.”
Mayfield was 22nd in the NASCAR Winston Cup points standings in what has been an up-and-down season. A two-time winner in 2000, Mayfield has five top-five finishes this year but no victories.
He even went so far as to offer to step out of the car to see if he was the problem.
“These guys on the team work their butts off,” Mayfield said Sunday. “I don’t know. I don’t think that’s the problem, I think it’s self-inflicted.”
Lepage was removed from the No. 4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports ride Monday, with Skinner named the replacement after he was fired from the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team.
Also, Jimmy Spencer reportedly told Travis Carter he was leaving the No. 26 Ford team at the end of the year, and Joe Nemechek is known to be looking for another ride for 2002, perhaps leaving the No. 33 Andy Petree Racing ride.
Penske Racing is due to field three cars next season for Rusty Wallace, rookie Ryan Newman and Mayfield’s replacement. Penske is one of the more powerful teams in auto racing, winning the Indianapolis 500 this season with Helio Castroneves and the CART championship last year with Gil de Ferran.
Mayfield’s departure comes at an odd time, given his success at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Mayfield was enthusiastically looking forward to going back there. He was second in the race last year and 10th in the Coca-Cola 600 in May.
“We know we can run well at Charlotte, and that gives you a pretty good boost going into the weekend,” Mayfield said prior to Tuesday's move.