The NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference featured Jeff Green, driver of the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), and his crew chief, Todd Berrier. Green is coming off a career best finish of second place...
The NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference featured Jeff Green, driver of the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), and his crew chief, Todd Berrier.
Green is coming off a career best finish of second place at last weekend's New England 300 and currently sits 18th in the point standings. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, July 28.
Highlights of the press conference:
Part 2 of 2
Q:Did you expect to be the highest RCR team in the point standings at this point in the season?
"With the No. 29's (Kevin Harvick) history and the No. 31's (Robby Gordon) history, we had an awesome opportunity to gain from their notes and to go to different tracks and be able to be right on. Obviously, we didn't figure that the No. 29 was going to struggle as much as it early in the year and get in so many wrecks. I had high expectations to be leading the points right now and to be winning races. I'm a little bit disappointed where we're at, but I don't think any of the RCR teams are satisfied. But we're still working pretty hard to get up there close to the top 10 before the year is over."
Q:On Richard Childress
"I think he's just seen everything. He's been around forever and he's got that Earnhardt attitude too. As good friends, Dale (Earnhardt) and Richard learned a lot from each other. I think Richard is teaching a little bit of that to us right now. He's just an awesome individual - on and off the racetrack. When you get him away from the racetrack, he's something else. And even at the racetrack, he's a supporter. He knows the ins and outs of racing and he knows how the luck goes sometimes too. I'm just very proud to be a part of RCR and have RC as a friend. I don't think there's a better friend in the world so I'm pretty proud of being where I'm at right now."
Q:When you joined RCR, were you accepted right away or did you have to prove yourself?
"I don't know. I don't know if I have to prove anything or not. I think I've proved myself over the years that I can get the job done. As far as proving it to ourselves, we needed to make sure that Todd and myself see eye to eye and get everything done on the racecar like we think we need to before the race starts. I think we've accomplished that. Todd and I are learning each other more and more. Todd and all the AOL guys were Kevin Harvick's ACDelco team for the last two years. So they're getting used to me and I'm getting used to them. We're getting better each week and we can read each other better and that's showing on the racetrack."
Q:If NASCAR doesn't want the drivers to do burnouts when they win because it will make the car lower, is it hard to hold yourself back?
"If I ever win one, I'm going to burn the tires off of it, I don't care what they say. That's part of the victory. It's part of getting the fans pumped up. We can put more tires on it after the race, that's not a big deal. We've seen some great burnouts over the years and if the fans leave with that memory in their mind, hopefully they're going to buy memberships on AOL and all our sponsors. That's just refreshing for them. After you win a race, there's no doubt in my mind, at that particular moment there's no higher high in the world. If you can't show a little excitement, I think that's taking life away from you. I would be one to argue with them. That's the first I've heard of that. I hope they don't do that."
Q:With NASCAR's policy of issuing more severe penalties, are the drivers becoming more involved to make sure they don't lose points?
"Well, we're dealing with an eighth of an inch. That's about the thickness of a quarter. It's not very much. With the springs that we're using today, it's very easy to lose height in your car. Throughout the day you're adjusting the racecar and it's easy to lose height. So now I guess we're looking at having to start the race a little bit high. To me, that's Todd's job and the guys who are setting the car up that morning to be sure we can make it through (post-race inspection). I don't think it's the job of the driver. The driver has enough to think about during the day to make sure he brings the best finish home and to try to bring the car home in one piece than to worry about whether the car's going to be high enough after the race."
Q:And yet the driver is on the line if NASCAR takes away points, isn't he?) "Yeah it's kind of funny the way our points system works. At the end of the year, you go off driver points for the championship. You don't really go off owner points. It's hard to do one and not the other. But still, it's all one team. The driver is part of that race team. If you penalize one part of that race team I think you've got to penalize them both. At the end of the day, it still means the same. But still, at the end of the year you've got to look at if they hadn't penalized Dale Jarrett by 20 or 25 points there, that would maybe put him in a different position at the end of the year and I don't think that's fair either."
Q:On co-existing with Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon
"Yeah, I laugh a lot at what the media stirs up. You've got to look back at the last two years in the Busch Series and we were not teammates. We didn't have the same owner. Unfortunately, I got a lot of the brunt of that deal. I remember one time at Bristol when everybody kind of made a big hype over where he won and I finished second.
"But now that we're teammates and have the same owner and work out of the same shop and have a lot of the same guys working on our racecars day in and day out, if we're not for each other we're not going to make that team better. Robby and Kevin had a problem at Sears Point last year. But I've never had a problem with either one of them. This year, we've worked really hard together. Hopefully I help those guys as much as they help me because they help me quite a bit. I think we kind of look out for each other. Definitely the last couple of months, our teams have worked harder and closer together and I think it's showed on our results come Sunday."
Q:Is it better to have three type-A personalities on the same team to achieve certain goals?
"Yeah, there's no doubt about it. If I didn't have two of the most hard-charging guys on the circuit, I don't think our team would be as good. It wouldn't make me as good. They can go out and try stuff and if they're 35th on the list, I don't know if I want to try that or not. I want to be able to try the stuff that's going to get us in the top 10 every week. Kevin and Robby do that, and that pumps me up and I think it makes us better too as a team."
Q:How has the mood around the shop changed over the recent weeks?) "Definitely all of us want to win. But we have to crawl before we walk. The mood at the race shop every time I'm there, those guys have got their heads down digging and trying to make it better. For a driver, it makes you pretty pleased to know those results are coming. I think we've showed that the last couple of weeks and hopefully we can keep showing that."
Q:On the subject of track surfaces, which track has one of the better surfaces in the country?
"The tracks they've built recently like Kansas, California, Los Vegas, Chicago, Indianapolis are good. For some reason, the tracks (surfaces) they've built out west have not deteriorated. It gives you a lot of grip when you go back there. The speeds stay good and the tires stay good. I don't know what they've done differently, but it sure makes it a lot easier on us and it makes for a better race."
Q:On his good run at Sears Point might have set the stage for the second half of the season
"I don't know if it did anything different for us, but it was a good finish for us. We try to do that every week. If we have a winning car, we're going to try to win with it. If we have a fifth place car, we're going to try to run fifth with it. That day, we had a car that could run in the top five and we did everything right on pit road to be able to put ourselves in that situation. I try to get all I can out of the racecar. Also, our performance is getting better. I think Todd, myself, and all the other (team) crew chiefs and drivers are learning each other better as a whole. We're able to use their notes a little bit more. They're able to use our notes a little bit more. As a whole, I think that's paying off. I think the engines are getting better, the cars are getting better, and our set-ups are getting better. Todd knows what I want a little bit more and I know what he wants to hear a little bit more now. It's getting a little bit easier for us."
Q:On the difference between the Busch Series and the Winston Cup Series
"Don't get me wrong. The Busch Series is very, very competitive. It's tough to win over there. But you've only got 15 to 20 cars that can win each week. In the Winston Cup Series, you've got 43 cars that can win each and every week. So, for the results to be there at the end of the day and to be able to roll into victory lane, it's just a little bit tougher. Those wins are a little bit more far and few between because you have so many good sponsors and good teams and resources to pull from. In the Cup Series, there are a lot of two and three-car teams. That just adds to the magnitude. When one car is good, that means the other car is probably going to be good too. Those top five spots and top 10 spots are getting more and more tough each week. Look at Bobby Labonte and those guys that are struggling now that were champions two years ago. I think it's because the competition level has gotten better and those guys just got a little bit behind. Definitely they're working just as hard as anybody to get there, but it's just tougher to win."
Q:Regarding sponsorships, do you worry about some of the Wall Street problems that are happening now?
"I don't look at it. There are plenty of people at RCR to look at that and that can worry about that. Todd and myself have a lot more things to worry about than what's going on on Wall Street or with the economy. But everybody is probably hurting a little bit. I don't think it's just our sponsor. I think everybody is in a situation that hopefully we can get out of really quick. Things like the runs that we've been having recently are helping our sponsor sell memberships and that's what we're in it for."
-team monte carlo-
Jeff Green Part I