When Michael Schumacher comes to the United States each year, he doesn't have to hide.

The Formula One great can stroll down the street. He is forced to stand in lines and is spared the throngs of fans that usually crowd him.

Schumacher was asked why he seems more relaxed in the United States.

"Maybe it is because I am," he said.

Finding anonymity anywhere on the planet is tough for Schumacher these days.

His 77 race wins are an F1 record. He broke another series record last year when he won his sixth world title and is chasing another milestone this year -- his fifth straight driver's championship. By winning the 2003 points title, Schumacher tied the mark set by Argentina's Juan Manuel Fangio from 1954 to '57.

This season, Schumacher has been almost unbeatable. The 35-year-old German enters today's U.S. Grand Prix with five poles and seven victories in the season's first eight races. He has 70 points, with Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello next at 54.

"His life is perfect, isn't it?" said Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother, who drives for the BMW Williams. "I think for him it is simply great."

Michael Schumacher likes the quiet life. He speaks softly and moved his family to a small Swiss village partly because of the solace. America gives him another hideout.

Schumacher is so unrecognizable on this side of the Atlantic that in 2002, he stood in line at Texas Motor Speedway to participate in the Richard Petty NASCAR Racing Experience.

After a long wait, Schumacher left without even getting in the car or going to the front of the line in true celebrity fashion. He wasn't even bothered by fans.

"I found it very nice," Schumacher said with a smile.

Mayfield Is Doing Well

Jeremy Mayfield is making his move.

The Evernham Motorsports driver, who has been overshadowed most of the season by rookie teammate Kasey Kahne, headed into the Nextel Cup race at Michigan on the brink of the top 10 in season points.

His second-place finish at Pocono last weekend gave him three straight top 10 finishes, and put him in 11th place in the standings and very much in the hunt for a spot in NASCAR's new "Chase for the Championship."

Any driver in the top 10, or within 400 points after the first 26 races this season, will be eligible to battle for the Cup title over the final 10 races. After the first 14 events of the season, Mayfield is 441 points behind series-leading Dale Earnhardt Jr.

And he has passed Kahne, who this season has had three runner-up finishes and was 13th in the standings.

"This team is really pumped up, and they deserve to be," Mayfield said. "All along our communication has been improving. When I talk to them about how the car's handling and ask them for stuff on race day, they're able to give it to me.

"And it works both ways, too. We're able to make decisions that we need together and that just continues to help us build confidence."

That came through at Pocono, where Mayfield encouraged his team to let him try to stay on track and gamble on finishing while other drivers were pitting for gas.

It nearly worked to perfection, with Mayfield taking the lead as other drivers pitted. But Jimmie Johnson, trying the same fuel strategy, was able to pass Mayfield near the end.

In his third season with Evernham, Mayfield has apparently taken a big step up.

His average finish of 15.93 is more than 10 spots ahead of what it was this time last year, and he has earned 483 more points and ranks 21 positions higher in the standings than he did heading into last year's spring race at Michigan.

Gassing It

More often than not, Cup races on Michigan's two-mile oval remain under the green flag for long periods and come down to a fuel economy run with drivers trying to stretch 22 gallons of gas.

"You really have to sharpen the pencil," said Todd Berrier, crew chief for Kevin Harvick. "You know as it plays out that there are 12 to 15 guys that are going to go for it at the end -- or know that they're going to make it -- and you're sitting there floundering around thinking you're a lap short, or not.

"Sometimes, you'll talk yourself into doing things that you typically wouldn't do when it comes down to gas mileage. But, still, enough is enough and if you've got it, you've got it and if you don't, you run out. That's just kind of how it works."

No Place Like Home

One of Ryan Newman's eight wins last season came in the August race at Michigan, but that's not the only reason he likes the place.

"This track is kind of like a home track to me -- not only because it's so close to where I grew up in South Bend, Ind., but also because it seems like I got my start in racing here," Newman said. "I cut my teeth, so to speak, at Michigan in an ARCA car, then won my first Busch race there too. Winning last year's Cup race there just topped it off for us."

Newman hopes racing at his favorite track this weekend will kick start a season in which he has yet to win. In five previous Cup races at Michigan, Newman has produced three top-five finishes.