Seek To Repeat

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While Jeremy Mayfield and Ryan Newman were a part of history – and the inaugural “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP” – repeating the experience is on their minds a year later.

Both are among the group of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers who kicked off NASCAR Preseason Thunder on Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR Preseason Thunder is the annual preseason test sessions at Daytona, and teams that finished in odd-number positions in the final 2004 car owner point standings tested Tuesday through Thursday of this week. Teams that finished in even-number positions in the final 2004 car owner point standings will test Jan. 18-20 at Daytona.

Prior to Thursday’s session, Mayfield and Newman dropped by the Daytona media center to discuss many topics, among them the experience of participating in the new method of crowning a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion and the learning curve that it generated.

“The bottom line is you’ve just got to do your best,” said Newman, who finished seventh in the final 2004 point standings. “Go for the win and focus on getting the best finish you possibly can. For us, that’s no change.”

For Mayfield, the impetus is immediate: Winning the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

“If you’ve been there and have never won it, you get frustrated,” said Mayfield, who finished 10th in the final 2004 point standings. “It’s where it all started and where it’s all happening. You talk about the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard (400), there’s a lot of big races, but there’s nothing like the Daytona 500.”

Both Mayfield and Newman hope for better luck in 2005. Both return with stable, burgeoning teams – Newman with Penske Racing South and Mayfield with Evernham Motorsports – and both have high standards based on 2004 results.

“If you win races, the championship comes by itself if you win the right races,” Newman said.

Paired with 2004 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Mayfield thinks the synergy of their teams may prove to be an unbeatable combination in 2005.

“We’re working for the future,” said Mayfield, citing team owner Ray Evernham’s leadership. “All we worry about is racing now, but so many things are going on that’s going to help our race team as a whole for the future.”

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