For the second consecutive week, Jeff Green celebrated in Victory Lane, taking advantage of late-race call to stay in the track while the other drivers pitted to capture the checkered flag in Saturday's inaugural Busch Series race at Kansas ...
For the second consecutive week, Jeff Green celebrated in Victory Lane, taking advantage of late-race call to stay in the track while the other drivers pitted to capture the checkered flag in Saturday's inaugural Busch Series race at Kansas Speedway. Green, now with four wins in 2001, returns to Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend, the site where he won the May race, beating out Matt Kenseth by .055 seconds. In his final season of full-time Busch Series competition, Green finds himself 187 points behind first-place Kevin Harvick with five races remaining in the season. Green was this week's guest on the NASCAR Busch Series teleconference and spoke about his season and the late-season charge he and his team have made in the point standings.
-10- Nestle Nesquik Ford Taurus
YOU HAD QUITE AN EXPERIENCE AT THE NEW TRACK IN KANSAS. "It was a nice race track. Everything went really well and we were the lucky ones to end up in Victory Lane at the end of the day. Everything just went right for us, and our Nesquik Ford was really good, especially when I got out front. The car really responded really well to the clean air and I was able to get away from those guys. It was just a great race. I think it was a pretty safe race, pretty exciting race for everybody, the fans and for everybody involved there for the first weekend. We were pretty proud of what we did this weekend."
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SEE THE EXPANSION OF NASCAR RACING OUT WEST? "The way it's looking, Owensboro might be the center of NASCAR, the way the tracks that are getting built in the Midwest and out west. It seems like it's working more west than it has been in a long time. I'm pretty proud of what we did over in Kansas. We had a great race in Kentucky, I got in an accident early in the summer at that race track, and Kentucky and Kansas really have a lot of similarities. We really ran well at Kentucky back in the summer and our car really responded this weekend. Like you said, we put everything together the last couple of weekends to win and we're gaining points on Kevin, and everything is going as to plan for the last three or four weeks. Hopefully, we'll keep our momentum going and win more races. Any time you have an inaugural event, the inaugural word means a lot to me and a lot to my race team, so it was pretty special to win there."
A COUPLE WEEKS AGO IT LOOKED LIKE KEVIN HARVICK WAS GOING TO RUN AWAY WITH THE CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT YOU'VE CLOSED THAT GAP IN RECENT WEEKS. "It seems that sometimes you have a run of bad luck or a run of good luck, whatever the deal is, and sometimes you can't do anything right. The last couple of weeks, that's the way it's been for his team and for Kevin. Those guys will swing out of it, they're too good of a race team not to. We're going to have to race them as hard as we can race them and force them to make a few more mistakes to get those 180 points. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it's a big margin when you're racing a race team like they've got. We'll just try to do the best job we can with our Nesquik Ford and do the best job we can each and every weekend, no matter where we're at to try to win that particular event. If we can do that, we'll get the most points and that's the best way to gain on those guys."
YOU WERE IN HIS POSITION LAST YEAR, BUT YOU FINISHED THE YEAR WITHOUT ANY BAD LUCK. WAS IT DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN YOUR FOCUS WITH A BIG POINT LEAD? "Not really. We were excited going to the next race, trying to win it. That's how we maintained our focus on each and every event; we went out and tried to do the best we could. We really didn't look at the points. Whether we were 600 ahead or 600 behind, we just tried to do the best job we could that particular weekend. Like I said before, that's how you get the most points. I wish that I could go back and borrow a few of those points. Maybe they'll let me borrow some. Six hundred ahead of second is not doing us too much good right now. It was point margin that will probably never get broke, so that's a record, for a long time anyway, that will be in the record books. I'm pretty proud of that, too. It's just a deal where we're trying to win another championship this year, and we need to win races to do it. We're wining races, so hopefully that championship is coming too."
YOU WERE 419 POINTS DOWN AFTER BRISTOL AND NOW YOU'RE 187 OUT OF FIRST. ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENT? "Not really. Kevin's just done things different. He won at Bristol and we ended up second at Bristol, but from there on out, he's had some bad luck and some bad runs. We just have to keep doing the things we know how to do every week, and that should put us back in contention, and hopefully we'll be competitive every week. Even if we don't win the championship, we've had a great year already. We've definitely done some things wrong, but we've also done a lot of things right. That's what makes me happy about the season."
TALK A LITTLE ABOUT KANSAS. WHAT WAS THE TRACK LIKE, AND DID IT CHANGE DURING THE RACE? "Not really. I think it stayed pretty much the same the whole weekend. The track really didn't change a lot for me, anyway. It seems like tracks like that, the new tracks especially, get tighter the more we run on them, as far as the cars don't want to turn as good. I didn't see too much of that. The track was a lot like Kentucky. Like I said earlier, the layout of the race track and the way you drove it was a lot like Kentucky Speedway that we raced back in the summer. We used a lot of those notes to get going on Thursday. NASCAR gave us three or four hours there Thursday just to practice and to get used to the race track, so we used a lot of those notes to roll off the truck and get a start on it. Definitely, it was pretty close. We actually raced about the same setup we had at Kentucky, and that really worked good for us."
DO YOU FEEL THAT CHICAGOLAND HAS THE SAME CONFIGURATION AS KANSAS? "They do have the same configuration, but the banking is different. Chicago is a lot steeper banked and that makes the setup a little bit different. And the way you drive it, it makes you drive it a little bit different. Just looking at several race tracks, Vegas, Kentucky and Kansas, they're all about the same and you drive them all about the same. Chicago is a little bit more like Charlotte than Kansas. Every track, a lot of people try to compare race tracks, and I do too, but every track had its own face and you have to deal with whatever it deals you on that particular day. We just had to do the best job we could and it worked out for us."
YOU WON THE SPRING RACE AT CHARLOTTE. HOW BAD DO YOU WANT A SWEEP? "Well, it would be awesome. The more in a row that we win, the harder that it gets to do the next one. It's going to be tough for us; it's going to be tough for anybody to win. It's not going to be easy for anybody, we'll just try to go in there like we have every other race and be prepared for what it should deal us that day. If we can do that, then we'll have a shot at winning. We've run really well there. Last year we ran third two times, both times we finished third there in 2000 and this year we have a win there already. Hopefully, we can just keep that average going and put ourselves in contention and put ourselves in position to win at the end. I don't think that we've stolen the last two races, but we've probably shocked a few people, so hopefully we can keep that going. I don't mind shocking people."
IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE YOU HAD THE NUMBER ONE CAR, BUT YOU HAD THE NUMBER ONE STRATEGY. "I think we had one of the fastest cars. For some reason at Kansas, there were five or six cars that were so even that track position was going to make everything. Jason Keller was running away with it, my teammate, with 30 laps to go and he got back in the pack running fourth or fifth, and he couldn't pass anybody either. It was all about track position, and I think we outsmarted them. We definitely outsmarted them to get the track position, but our car was as good as anybody's at the end, and that's what made me pretty happy about it."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BUSCH SERIES AS YOU PREPARE TO LEAVE NEXT YEAR FOR WINSTON CUP? "The Busch Series has been awesome. I enjoy racing Busch races. They're the right length, they're not too long, they're not too short and you get to race on Saturday. That's the things that I'm going to miss. I'll still be racing some Busch races on the companion events, but the Winston Cup Series is the elite of all racing, I think. I want to be the champion of that series. I want to be able to run in the top five every week, like we do in the Busch Series. I think that with the race team and the people surrounding me, the sponsor that we've got with AOL, it will give us the opportunity to do that every week. That's what is going to make me happy. I want to be the best of the best, and to do that, you have to race against the Winston Cup guys. In think that's going to give me an opportunity to show that in the next two to three years. I'm not saying that we're going to be a championship contender next year, but I definitely think we'll have an opportunity to win races, and if we capitalize on that, then we'll win our share. We'll just get acquainted with each other, Todd and the guys. Todd Berrier and all the guys at RCR do a great job. They build some awesome race cars and that should give us another opportunity to be competitive every week. If we learn each other as fast as I think we can, or as fast as we've learned each other already this year, we should be able to be contenders in a couple of years. Hopefully that's what we can do."