Jeremy Mayfield recovered from a dismal 2001 Winston Cup season to land a ride in Ray Evernham's No. 19 Dodge. With the 2002 season in full swing, Mayfield is set to get himself and the rest of the Dew Crew to the Winner's Circle.
It's always good to make a fresh start and that's exactly what I feel like I'm doing in 2002. The chance to drive for someone like Ray Evernham doesn't come around very often, so you have to jump at the chance when it does. It's hard to say what would have happened if I hadn't been in a position to join Evernham Motorsports and drive the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge, but let's just say I'm believing more and more that things happen for a reason.
Ray runs such a first-class organization that it's hard to believe Evernham Motorsports has been around for only one season. He and Dodge have built a solid foundation in that year, and I feel I'm stepping into a program that will give me all the tools I need to succeed. It's important to me that I do everything in my power to make the more than 3,000 Dodge dealers, and all of my other sponsors, proud that I'm driving for them. I know how important it is to Ray as well.
My new crew chief, Sammy Johns, and the rest of the Dew Crew started off great. We didn't know what to expect in a race situation, but through the off-season we felt like we were clicking on every level. I love walking into the shop. It's such a team environment. It really is two teams functioning as one. The fact that you can't tell the difference between the No. 9 and No. 19 is proof of the one-team approach Dodge promotes.
The guys in the shop are always working together, and I'm really excited about that. I know a lot of people say that about their race shops, but I really mean it. I've never seen anything like it. Everything at Evernham Motorsports is very professional. You get that feeling when you walk in.
Working with Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood all season long is going to be great. I've known Bill for a long time and we get along really well. I know we're going to complement each other. He's got so much knowledge about the race car, how it works and what it takes to win, that I know it's only going to make me a better driver.
Casey is a great new teammate as well. I know a lot of people weren't sure how that whole situation was going to work out, but we did. We're all going to be able to share information. The No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge is going to be right there with the No. 9 and No. 19. I think everyone got a glimpse of that during Daytona testing.
My confidence level is at an all-time high this season. Part of that is because of Ray and what a great motivator he is, but it's also because I know what this No. 19 Dodge Intrepid R/T is capable of achieving
I also want to thank all of the fans who have stood by me throughout my career, especially this past season. Maybe a trip to Victory Lane would be a good way to show my appreciation. We are going to try our best to get there.