Hometown: Owensboro, Ky.
Jeremy Mayfield became big news in 2009 for all the wrong reasons. We’re guessing that’s why you’re reading this to begin with, because he hasn’t been doing all that well on the track for the past four years. Ergo, you must be here to get all the dirt on Mayfield’s alleged drug problems. In that case, you might as well go somewhere else because we’re not going to rehash the whole sordid tale for you. We’re going to talk about Mayfield as a driver and a human being.
Mayfield made his first Sprint Cup start in 1993 and announced that he would contend for Rookie of The Year honors in 1994. Instead he struggled through the season with three different teams, finally landing with Cale Yarborough Motorsports. His best finish that year was 19th. He stayed with Yarborough in 1995, but he only qualified for 27 out of 31 races. His best finish in 1995 was eighth and he was a dismal 31st in the points standings. He earned two top fives and his first pole in 1996 – a marked improvement – but was released late in the season. He finished out the season in the No. 37 Kmart / Little Caesar’s Ford owned by Michael Kranefuss and was 26th in the points standings.
Mayfield continued with Kranefuss in 1997 and notched eight top tens, including two top fives, to finish 13th in the points standings. In 1998 Kranefuss sold part of his interest in the team to Penske Racing South. This proved to be a good thing for Mayfield, as he saw the benefits of the Penske organization almost immediately. He took the points lead early in the season and scored his first career victory at the Pocono 500, finishing seventh in points for the season.
Sadly, Mayfield hit a dry patch in 1999 with no wins, but did notch 12 top tens. He came roaring back in 2000 with two wins. Afterwards, his performance dropped off considerably until he was let go from Penske in mid-season 2001. Without a ride, he sat out the remainder of the season.
On a side note, this should not necessarily be viewed as a reflection of Mayfield’s ability, but rather the unscrupulous manner in which the Penske organization handled its business affairs at the time. At the end of the 2001 season, Penske’s management decided to close the 12 team because of a lack of sponsorship. Instead of telling the No. 12 employees about the closure, they chose to change the locks on the team shop while the team members were in a meeting at the No. 2 shop. Nice way to treat your employees.
The 2002 season found Mayfield with the year-old Evernham Dodge team, a very good career move. However, Mayfield did not score a victory until 2004 and was let go in 2006. Supposedly Mayfield made some off-the-cuff remarks about a certain superstar crew chief/owner that got him booted off the team. The Evernham team was his last steady Sprint Cup ride and he has not run a full season since.
Mayfield attempted to field his own team in 2009, but only made 5 out of 10 races before being sidelined in May for failing a NASCAR-mandated random drug test. Although we wish him the very best, Mayfield’s future in the Sprint Cup series isn’t looking good. The 40-year-old is on the bubble for peak performance, as we all know the chances of winning diminish quickly after a driver hits his fourth decade.