Preseason Thunder: Dodge - Jeff Green interview

JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge) "We've got two Dodges here, and they're pretty close speedwise. The body location is a little different, and it's amazed all of us that they're that close. We're close with horsepower in both of them. We're...

JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge)

"We've got two Dodges here, and they're pretty close speedwise. The body location is a little different, and it's amazed all of us that they're that close. We're close with horsepower in both of them. We're just working on speed like everybody else and trying the things we try every year. Sometimes we come down here and they work and sometimes they don't. The rules seem to change every year, too, so you have to try the same stuff over and over to make sure it works.

"We won the pole last year for the Daytona 500, and I think these cars are comparable to the one we won the pole with last year. The rules have changed, but the way I felt last year at this test and the way I feel now is pretty comparable. I think we're better compared to the competition now, but we had a great team last year. We've got a great team this year, too. I don't think we're down here testing to get the pole, but we're going to do all we can.

"We have a motor here we raced at Talladega last year. It wasn't bad then, but they say they've got more with it this year. Everybody does, so that's kind of a wash. Mike Ege has hired some new people. Some guys from Pro Motors came over and I think that's going to be a big benefit for us. We had some parts failures at the end of the year, and they've switched some manufacturers. They found out what was wrong, and that's the best feeling any driver can have. Hopefully those problems won't happen any more.

"We ran eight or nine races in the 43 Dodge last year. Gary Putnam (crew chief) and I got to work together and I know all these guys now. We got to see what we could do together. Everytime I go to the shop in Randleman, these guys are glad to see me and I'm glad to see them. As far as my Cup career, this is the best group I've been with so far. I don't think I've got anything to prove. If you get out here trying to prove something, you're going to bite yourself in the butt. I do what I know to do and if that's not enough, so be it. I think we have enough knowledge between everybody at Petty Enterprises to get the job done. We're not a contender for the championship, but I feel like we can contend in the top 15 every week. If we do that, we'll have a good season.

"We've got to put ourselves in position to win. All these guys on the team are young and they're growing. We've got a good pit crew, and we have good pit stops. If we can put it together for the entire race and put ourselves in contention, I think we'll have a shot to win.

"Richard and Kyle don't put a lot of pressure on me. I put a lot more pressure on myself. I want to do good for Cheerios and Dodge and everybody who helps our team. I know if I'm in the driver's seat and I'm the one that puts the 43 car back in victory lane that'll be a glorious day for all of us. They've put a lot of hard work into it. The 43 car needs to be running up front in the top five. I know everything has changed since Richard drove the 43. The competition level is a lot greater. You've got 30 guys out there now who can win instead of 10 or 15 like it used to be. I'm not taking anything away from Richard and those other guys, but the competition level is a little different right now.

"Michael and Dale Jr. have won consistently down here the last few years, but they're beatable. Those guys help 'em too much. I'm with 'em. I know those guys are going to be up front. It's all about your friends. If we can gang up on them a little bit and not let them gang up on us, I think we'll have a good shot at knocking them off.

"The biggest change for me this year will probably be not saying Winston Cup. The Winston Cup Series is the NEXTEL Cup Series now. I'd say by next year I'll be used to saying NEXTEL Cup. I don't think the tires will make that big of a difference. When the caution comes out now it'll be four-tire stops. It'll put a bigger premium on the driver and team. It'll make the driver and team come into play more instead of the tires taking care of the car.

"We're a little behind on our downforce stuff, but we're getting caught up on it. The guys have worked hard over the winter. My Busch Series crew chief Harold Holly has helped me a lot. We're going to test some of Harold's ideas in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to that. I don't think I'll run any Busch races this year. I've won a Busch title with Harold's help. I don't have anything to prove over there. I want to prove myself here. I want to win here and run in the top 10 every week. What Matt Kenseth did last year is our goal. When you have a bad day and still finish in the top 10 is pretty impressive. That's what everybody is trying to do. "

-dodge motorsports-

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Series NASCAR-CUP