'More respect will lower cautions'
This weekend, Jeff Green and the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team head to the two-mile Michigan Speedway for Sunday's Batman Begins 400. Green will be making his 10th Nextel Cup career start at the track where his best finish is a ninth in 2002.
Green is the only driver to have raced for the sport's biggest names. Throughout his career, he has driven for Cup's most legendary names, such as Junior Johnson, Felix Sabates, Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt, and now Richard Petty. Green is in his second full season driving the legendary Petty Enterprises #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge. The 2000 NASCAR Busch Grand National champion, he holds the record for the largest point's margin after winning the championship by 616 points. He is also a two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup pole winner, winning poles at the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and the pole for the 2003 Daytona 500.
The thoughts of #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker driver Jeff Green heading into Michigan:
"This series is ready to get to a place like Michigan. We've seen so many cautions this season, so many laps run under the yellow. A nice, wide, fast track like Michigan might be the best remedy. Michigan really isn't a track where we bring out a lot of cautions. I think it's going to be good to get back to some good hard-nosed racing. Hopefully we'll see a lot more of that this weekend.
"I don't know if we can pinpoint any certain reason for all the caution laps. We sure have heard a lot of reasons. We've got so many young guys in the Nextel Cup Series right now, and maybe that's a little bit of it. We hear so much talk about young guys, and everyone for that matter, having to succeed because of this added pressure. I don't know about that. That's tough to buy.
"There has always been pressure to succeed. This is Nextel Cup. How could you not feel pressure to succeeed? I feel the pressure that I put on myself every time I step into the car. That's the feeling you have from wanting to win and be a champion. That has always been there. There hasn't been anything new this season that makes me feel more pressure. I know we've got to race hard every week and do the best we can every week. Pressure is always there, but it's not anything new. In the Nextel Cup Series you come to expect it -- you'd better expect it.
"The best answer, however, that we can really come up with is respect. Where is it? We've seen so many people not show any respect to others this year. That has been one of the biggest changes. We're not seeing that level of respect that we've always seen - both for each other and the equipment we drive. The biggest part is guys hitting each other and not racing each other cleanly.
"We're seeing a lot of guys taking advantage of others. Sure, the spoilers are different, the tires are different, but we are still the ones driving the cars. We are the ones in control. There is a limit to these cars. We drive them to that limit each week, but that is as far as you can go. That limit probably has changed with the new setup and such, but we can't drive past it. You have to find that limit and race with what you have. It always has been that way, and it is always going to be that way. In some cases, I think we're seeing some guys go over that limit.
"The cars are harder to hold onto this year. They don't stick to the track like they used to. We are seeing guys bump another guy and away they go into the fence. That's just not showing any respect. I like to race guys clean and I like to be raced clean. We need to get back to that, and then I think we'll see a lot less cautions.
"A lot of the times too I'm not really sure why the caution comes out. I can understand the wrecks, but a small piece of rubber out of the groove or a small piece of metal lying on the apron really isn't a reason for a caution. We're not racing on the apron. Sometimes we're seeing the caution when we can probably keep racing. NASCAR does a good job, though. They have a lot of responsibility to have a clean race, and they don't want to see all these cautions either.
"Hopefully Michigan will be a different story. I hope we don't have any cautions. I think we can have a good race at Michigan, and we can get rid of some of this other stuff. We're looking forward to Michigan. This Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team is looking forward to a strong run."