JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger) NOTE: Green, winner of the 2002 Daytona 500 pole position, was 14th fastest in Saturday morning's practice session. HOW GOOD IS YOUR CHARGER? "I think we're pretty good, but everybody...
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Green, winner of the 2002 Daytona 500 pole position, was 14th fastest in Saturday morning's practice session.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR CHARGER? "I think we're pretty good, but everybody holds back a little bit. I think we've got enough held back where hopefully we can get pretty close to the top five. I don't know if we've got anything for those top two or three, but you never know what everybody else is holding back. We'll make one more run this afternoon. The one run we made this morning we didn't' have any oil temperature. I know that will help us a little bit to get the oil temperature up. That might be worth two or three tenths, so we'll see what happens. You can only make one run tomorrow, so we're going to make a simulated qualifying run this afternoon and see what happens. If everybody just makes one run, maybe we'll be close. The main thing is to get a good run and get in the top 10 if not the top five. We had a clean run this morning, and we go out ninth tomorrow. It seems like wind picks up later in the day here, so maybe going out early will help. If the wind stays the same I don't think it will matter. I don't think the heat or cool temperatures will make a difference like some of the tracks we go to."
IS WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 POLE A GOOD NEWS-BAD NEWS DEAL? "It was definitely a good deal for me. You get to be on the pole and get to talk about it all week and get your sponsors more coverage. I don't see anything bad out of it at all. Everything I've seen it's all a plus. Drivers who say they don't want to be on the pole for a week are crazy. They're lying. Who wouldn't want to be on the pole for the Daytona 500. That's a no-brainer. That's the place to be."
WAS YOUR 2002 POLE AN UPSET? "I think we were a longshot coming down here, but we had the speed to do it. We were third or fourth in practice. I don't think anybody looked for us to win the pole, and that's why we were a longshot, but we had the speed to do it. We backed it up. I think we've got a good package this year. You can't have a good motor without a good body and vice versa. I think the guys at Petty's have done their homework on the bodies, and we've definitely got some good motors. The driver has to do all the right things. You can't miss a shift or you can't bind the car up. It's a lot easier here and Talladega to qualify than anywhere else. When we go to California and Las Vegas it'll be a lot harder to qualify. The driver has a lot of input on what happens there. Once you get it in high gear here and try not to turn the wheel too much, that's about all a driver can do here."
DO YOU THINK ANYBODY IS WORRIED ABOUT YOU WINNING THE POLE TOMORROW? "I hope they're not. I hope we can sneak up on 'em. We were always fourth or fifth in the test here. If we don't get the pole I'm not going to worry about it, but if we're not in the top 10 I'm really going to worry about it. We've got a top five or top 10 car, but that goes out the window if you're not first or second tomorrow. We drafted well in practice, and I'm happy about that, too."
WHAT REACTION HAVE YOU GOTTEN FROM THE KING AND KYLE? "The King doesn't say too much. He just pulls those sunglasses down and looks at you. He's the kind of owner everybody wants. When you do something wrong he'll tell you about it and when you do something wrong he'll tell you about it. All that stuff in the middle he just kind of lets it ride. That's pretty cool. You can't tell what Kyle's thinking. He's got to worry about his car and he doesn't have a lot of time to worry about ours. We're a package deal and we work that way at the shop and track. He knows what's going on for both teams, but he really doesn't say a lot here at the racetrack."
HOW HUGE WOULD IT BE FOR THE 43 TO BE ON THE POLE FOR THE 47TH ANNUAL DAYTONA 500? "That would be pretty awesome. We might be thinking wrong. I don't know if we've got enough to sit on the pole, but we'll get close. It would be huge. Anytime you can win a pole anywhere is huge, and I think we've got more opportunities down the road. To come to Daytona with the 43 and be on the pole would be awesome. It would be good for Jeff Green. In '02 when I did it, a lot of people thought it was a fluke. We beat Dale Jr. that year. He went out right before I did. They said we shut the fans up pretty quick when I beat him."
WHO DO YOU HAVE TO BEAT TOMORROW? "Jeff Gordon, Elliott Sadler and the 97 look tough. To go out there and do it cold turkey will be a lot different than doing it in practice today, but we'll show up and try. That's what we're here for right now."
WERE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE PRESEASON TESTING? "I think we were pretty prepared and pretty satisfied with our tests at California and Las Vegas. I think the spoiler and tires have thrown everybody for a loop a little bit, but we're looking forward to the challenge. Everybody is on the same playing field, and I feel like we're prepared. Daytona is a different deal. We want to come out of here with a decent finish and get all we can get, but we don't want to go home 40th if we can go home 30th. We'd like to get a top 15, and if we can do that we'll have a good launch for the season."
YOU'RE NOT IN THE SHOOTOUT TONIGHT. WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM WATCHING IT? "It's hard to learn a lot if you're not in the car. This track is so big it's hard to see. You can watch on TV all night long and not figure out what the guys are doing, but you can pay attention and possibly learn something. For the most part, you need to be in the seat."
COMMENT ON NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE "I wish they would just draw for qualifying to tell you the truth, but now if you're in the top 35 you can practice for the race more. We did that a lot in the Busch Series. We really didn't worry about qualifying. We came to the racetrack 99 percent of the time last year in qualifying mode. That's all we did on Friday. We lost an hour and a half to the guys who were race practicing, so I think it's a definite plus for our team. Some new teams would sit here and say different, but if we were out of the top 35 it would be different. Hopefully we'll never be in that situation."
WILL IT BE TOUGHER FOR NEW TEAMS TO QUALIFY THIS SEASON? "Unless it's a team like a Penske team that's got so much background and can come in here and qualify for these races, it's going to be tough for the underdogs to come in here and do that. You might say they'll never get a chance if they don't make the first couple of races. We're not in that situation and don't have to worry about that. It's not my job to worry about anybody else. We were 30th just about all year in 2004 in the points, and that was not a guaranteed provisional. I know I didn't take one provisional last year. I made every race on time. I don't know how many people were able to do that. I was pretty proud of that, but we did go to the track thinking about getting a good starting spot and good pit selection. All that went through our heads on Friday and it'll kinda be gone for now. I think you can win these races from any position if you've got a good enough racecar. The main thing is to get your car driving good and handling right. Martinsville or Bristol is a little bit different, but I think just about every other racetrack you can win from anywhere."
WHAT'S THE OVERALL OUTLOOK ENTERING 2005? "I hate testing. I think all drivers will tell you that. I think we all want to be in competition when we're at the racetrack. We're very excited about what Dodge has produced for us and we're very excited about our new motor program. To put all that into one season hopefully it'll pay off for us and we'll be able to put up numbers and put up results at the end of the day. I think the handling is going to be a play everywhere we go now. Daytona will give us an opportunity to see if our car handles well here. I think after Talladega and California we'll have an indication of what kind of car we've got. I've never been behind a car at testing and had one behind me, so we don't know what the new rules will do for us in traffic or what the Charger is going to do for us in traffic. That's our biggest concern. Will we be able to turn and pass people? "
YOU COME FROM A RACING FAMILY. DID YOU GET SOME GOOD ADVICE FROM YOUR BROTHERS ABOUT RACING? "We were also in different classes, and I was always in a junior class. When we started racing go-karts David tried to help me, but I was always so stubborn I wouldn't listen. My dad (David) probably gave me more verbal advice. I remember when we first started racing go-karts we were racing around towns and they'd block off the streets. We were somewhere and there was a blind spot where I couldn't see. My dad would stand where he'd want me to let off. When I went by him it was good, but when I went around the other side of the building, he'd walk down and get me a little closer to the turn. That advice was pretty cool, but he didn't tell me about it until it was over. All the crew chiefs I've worked with throughout the years have told me how far I drive into the corners. I blame my dad for that, so they can argue with him about that.
"Harold Holly is the best example of that when I drove the 10 car and won the Busch championship. He told me I was hard on brakes. I told him to get it turning good, I'd drive in hard and use the same amount of brakes and he wouldn't have to worry about buying brake pads. We'll still win the race. Every place I go they all say the same thing, so I guess I am hard on brakes, but that's just my style. That's the way it is. Tell the brake companies to make 'em better. You remember a lot of things from your childhood and some things that happened yesterday you don't remember, but I will never forget my dad teaching me about how deep to drive that go-kart in the turns. He didn't tell me what he had done for a long time, but we both still laugh about it."