Kentucky native Jeremy Mayfield began his climb from the bottom of the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" standings with a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway today.

He begins the week 10th in the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" standings after an on-track incident involving the cars of series drivers Robby Gordon and Greg Biffle caused damage to Mayfield's No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge and forced a 35th-place finish last Sunday in Loudon, N.H. The incident also collected the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet of Chase contender Tony Stewart, who finished 39th.

Mayfield became a contender for the 10-race Chase by earning his first series win in his past four seasons in Richmond, Va., on September 11. He has driven to a total of four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes through 27 starts this season.

"The thing that bothers me from this past weekend is that we worked so hard to get where we were. To have something that was totally out of our control set us back that far was devastating," Mayfield said. "These guys worked as a team all year long to get to the points situation we were in and for somebody to do a stupid move like he did, it's devastating.

"We will rebound from it. The hardest part now is that we have to work extremely harder than we were going to work anyway. It's just heartbreaking knowing that we were that close to winning the championship and somebody else messed up. We had a great car that Sunday and felt we were going to have a good finish. It (the incident) cost us a lot."

He will begin chipping away at his 142-point deficit to Chase leaders Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Kurt Busch this weekend in Dover, Del., on a track where he won his only pole award of the season before finishing eighth in June.

"I really feel like Dover can be a rallying point for the team and that it's going to be one of our great racetracks," Mayfield said. "It's always been a good place for me. I love it, I can't wait to get there and try to make up some of what we lost the other day. It's possible to make up the points because other guys will have problems, too, just like we did. If somebody has a flawless nine-race deal, then it's going to be tough."

In addition to Dover, Mayfield also will look to make up ground during return visits to Lowes Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Darlington International Raceway where he has collected a top-five finish and two top-10 finishes this season.

"Just about the all tracks coming up are tracks that we like, I feel good about them," he said. "We just have to run like we need to and make up the difference."

Current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie points leader Kasey Kahne and 16th- and 17t -place drivers Michael Waltrip and Rusty Wallace also tested today.

Drivers also mixed business with pleasure by taking time out to address 23 students who were visiting the speedway to take part in the Kentucky State Police "Drive To Stay Alive" program. The program entails one week of safety and driving skills training. Program graduates will return to schools throughout the state to educate their fellow students. Drivers spoke about the value of wearing seat belts, gave tips on how to properly handle a car, answered student's questions and signed autographs.

~ Kentucky Speedway ~