Pennzoil 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway November 13, 1999 DAVID GREEN (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "I can remember the year Bobby Labonte started to drive Pontiacs for Joe Gibbs. I can remember a past Winston Cup champion who used to...
Pennzoil 400 Homestead-Miami Speedway November 13, 1999
DAVID GREEN (No. 45 Lucky Dog Pontiac Grand Prix): "I can remember the year Bobby Labonte started to drive Pontiacs for Joe Gibbs. I can remember a past Winston Cup champion who used to drive a Pontiac saying, 'You put me in one of those cars and I'll lap the field.' That keeps sticking in my mind. Actually, the Grand Prix is good. But just because the car is good does that mean I'm capable of beating Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart and John Andretti?
"It doesn't make it that easy. I don't think that the teams that are using Pontiacs are getting due credit and the respect that they deserve. They're good race teams. Everyone is going to say that this race team isn't the caliber of Joe Gibbs'. Well, maybe it's not, but they're on their way to doing that. Being a single-car team, everything is stacked against you. I just knew those comments were going to come. 'I'm a good qualifier, but I can't race.' I still say it, and it's true, I have to come to the race track having to make the race. I don't have any luxury to fall back on with a provisional. We have to pull out all the stops. Everybody is on an even keel here, so I think we'll be all right. Comments like that just aren't fair."
PEOPLE FORGET YOU QUALIFIED THIRD AT INDY THIS YEAR IN A CHEVROLET.
"Right. We didn't read any 'Well, he's in a Chevrolet he ought to be up there.' What's the difference? Then it was more like, 'He's a good qualifier and he's not going to race that good.' We ran 20th. That's not where I wanted to be, but at the same time people don't understand there are two different races each week (Busch and Cup). They're so far apart you can't put part of one program onto the other. I just think the teams that run Pontiacs don't get enough respect. They kind of insult us by saying, 'That car has an advantage.'"
IF DAVID GREEN DOESN'T RUN WELL 'HE CAN'T DRIVE.' IF DAVID GREEN WINS THE POLE, HE DOES SO BECAUSE 'HE'S IN A PONTIAC.' YOU CAN'T WIN.
"No, I can't. That's what aggravates me because I feel like I'm as good a driver as three-quarters of the guys out here. There are a group of drivers that have tons and tons of experience and I've got a long ways to go before I catch up to them. But I think with the amount of races I've raced in Winston Cup, I think I've paid my dues. I haven't won, but that doesn't mean that people should sit there and say, 'He can't do it.' One car owner said, 'I'm tired of recycling drivers and I'm going to get some new guys.' Hey, look at the field and they're not even in the starting lineup. To me, that pisses me off. I'm sure there are some guys out there that are saying, 'Hey, if David Green can sit on the pole then that Pontiac has got to be good or they're cheating.' I got news for them. If we can stay around here long enough and Tim (Beverley) gets us a sponsor, I'll wave that guy when I pass him. They'd better get used to it. I think Bobby Labonte is a good example.
"He paid his dues at Bill Davis Racing for awhile, but nobody kicked him in the hole and threw the dirt over him. Now he's the hottest guy out here. It's very aggravating, but all it does for me is motivate the heck out of me.
They're saying it's a fluke thing that I won the pole and if I don't qualify for a race I suck anyway. That's why I push the pedal down and show them up."
DOES THAT MAKE IT HARDER TO ENJOY SOMETHING LIKE YESTERDAY WHEN YOU WON THE POLE?
"It does. It's just like when I won the Busch championship in '94 and just won one race and that's the one when Mark Martin pulled off the track when he got the white flag. I don't like to bring that note up. I would have still won the championship because I'd have finished second to Mark that day. People don't realize all the hard work that goes behind consistency. They have a way of raining on your parade many, many times. The parade was short yesterday because now we have to work on the race setup. Somebody said during the pole winning interviews, 'You don't seem very excited.' I said, 'I am, but I know come tomorrow morning when we start practicing it's a whole new day and come Sunday and we start this race, there are going to be 42 guys that want to whip up on me real bad.' I've got to dig down deep to gather the experience and gather everything I can to beat guys like Bobby and John Andretti and guys like that. I think we've got a good shot at it. It's very, very difficult. I'm real good about being able to put all of this out of my mind and go out there because it motivates me. That's a very good thing because I can sit here and do backflips all day long and say, 'I'm on the pole! I'm on the pole!' But that won't get us any closer to victory lane tomorrow."
WHAT'S A REALISTIC GOAL FOR THE RACE?
"I think a good, solid top-10. At Phoenix we ended up 12th and we were right there at the tail end of the lead lap. We were racing some pretty good company. I expect to bring it up a notch tomorrow. If we can come out of here with a good, solid top-10 and on the lead lap, being a contender, that would be a good day. People are going to read that and say, 'He's on the pole. He ought to win this race.' Welcome to Winston Cup. We know how tough it is. I'd say if this was a year or two down the road and this team was in this position, I'd be sitting here saying, 'Hey, we're going to win this race.' Don't get me wrong. I think we have the capabilities of winning. But there are probably going to be some things that I experience tomorrow that I haven't ever experienced before. The crew is going to experience some different things. Now the microscope's going to be on our pit stops. It's going to be on me. Now we're going to run in traffic and couple that with a brand new race track we haven't run a Winston Cup race on, who knows what can happen? To me, just being competitive is important. The first thing I experienced when I joined this race team was that no matter what happened that particular day I knew we were giving 100 percent and doing everything we could. We understood one another and nobody was pointing fingers. That's all that matters. Where we shook out is where we shook out. I think that's the makings of a good, solid team."
WOULD YOU VIEW A TOP-FIVE RUN AN UPSET JUST CONSIDERING WHERE THIS TEAM HAS BEEN?
"Oh, yeah. To me, upsets and getting fired up is what this sport is all about. I heard people say, 'If Joe Nemechek can win, any of us can win.' That's just not fair to Joe. Just like I think it's not fair to us, but I know people are going to say it. To get in there and finish in the top-five and be a contender, I think we could do that. Yeah, it would be an upset, but you know what? Deep-down, you won't see me doing backflips and all that because I know we've got the capabilities of doing it. It wouldn't floor me.
"I've always been known as a guy that doesn't show a lot of emotion because I know the next task is right around the corner is equally as tough. There are so many good teams and great drivers. It's very, very rewarding to come out here and do some of the things that we can hopefully do. I have a lot of feelings right now. I'm excited. It's like a guy was joking, 'Well, I guess you could give back a couple of tenths now.' I always try to keep a tenth or a tenth-and-a-half laying around somewhere. I don't dare show everything I've got right now. I'll wait to do that when we get in the race car. I can say it's been a tough road for me in Winston Cup. Right now I feel more rewarded than I ever have been. When people say you have to pay your dues, I can accept paying my dues. Just like in '92 when I didn't drive at all and I worked for Bobby and Terry (Labonte). That was paying my dues to win a Busch championship. I'll pay my dues all day long and all year long if this is what it's all about because I think we can do it. I would just like to have a little bit of respect. There are three or four drivers out there -- Mark Martin, Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte that helped me get this ride. I thought that was classy, two of those guys being non-Pontiac drivers. It's nice to know that some of the stars of this sport are human and have feelings and can help you out. That's comforting to know, because there are a lot of times that there are some mixed feelings that go on. There are guys out there right now saying, 'Well, he had to be cheating,' or 'He can't race worth a dime. We'll take the air off him and see how good he is.' Well, I'll tell you what. I've got my guns loaded and I'm ready to go."