JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge) NOTE: Green won the pole for the 2003 Daytona 500 with a lap of 186.606 mph. He was 23rd fastest in Saturday's first practice session at 186.691 mph. "I feel like we've got a shot at the pole again.
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge)
NOTE: Green won the pole for the 2003 Daytona 500 with a lap of 186.606 mph. He was 23rd fastest in Saturday's first practice session at 186.691 mph.
"I feel like we've got a shot at the pole again. We're going to throw a few more things at it in the second practice. I think we can qualify in the top five or top 10 and if we get a real good draw and catch the wind right we've got another shot at the pole. It would be exciting to get two in a row here. My main focus is the race, but qualifying is our first race here, so we'll try to win it tomorrow.
"We were just about in the same place after the first practice last year. We slipped up on 'em. It's just who holds the best, gets the best draw and catches the wind the best. It's so close here in qualifying. I think it's going to be closer first to last than it's ever been. I think a lot of guys have a shot at it, but we've got a few secrets that the other guys don't have. Hopefully that'll help us."
HOW DOES THIS TEAM STACK UP TO THE OTHER TWO YOU DROVE FOR LAST SEASON? "I think we're right there with them. The other two probably had a few more resources to pull from because we had a third team to pull from. I don't think we're that far behind, and I know we're not as far behind as people think Petty Enterprises is. I think we're catching up quick, and I think we're on the heels of being a top 15 team every week. You have to build to make progress, so hopefully we'll keep building."
DO YOU THINK WE'LL SEE THE SAME CARS UP FRONT IN THE 500? "I hope not. I hope the 43 is going to be up there somewhere. You'll be racing the same guys. Waltrip and Earnhardt and those guys tend to excel at this track. I don't know if it's their program or everybody knows they're fast and they want to help them. That's the big deal in restrictor-plate racing. You need help. You need the right help, and you need people to hang with you all day. That's the big thing you have to work out."
DO YOU PUT THAT MUCH EMPHASIS ON QUALIFYING FOR DAYTONA 500? "It was really sweet to sit here all week last year and not have to worry about what was going to happen in the 125. There's a lot of significance in qualifying well for the Daytona 500, but if you're not in the top two, forget about it. All we did when we tested here this winter was work on that fast lap. At least that's the way it seemed.
We worked on drafting a little bit, but we worked on running as fast as we could for one lap for two and a half days. I think 99 percent of the guys that come down here work on trying to qualify. It's hard to put yourself in race mode because you're out there by yourself basically. Mostly we just work on speed."
IS THIS THE ONE POLE A DRIVER WOULD MOST LIKE TO WIN? "As a team, probably yes. As a driver, I'd rather win a pole somewhere else where the driver has a little more to do with it. You go to Charlotte or a place like that, a driver has a lot to do with it. Here, a driver is maybe 10 percent. Once you get in high gear, it's basically just guiding it and making sure you don't bind the car up. I think almost anybody could do that."
HOW'S THE ENGINE PROGRAM THIS SEASON? "I think it's come a long way since last November. Those guys at Mike Ege Racing Engines have worked really hard on reliability. They also have a lot more power. The open tracks we've tested at show we have a lot more power and can turn more rpm. That's what it's all about. My concern last year was blowing up a lot. You've got to have reliability to make sure you can finish before you can win. You've also got to have power to put yourself in position to win. They've worked hard on that. They've got some new people over there helping, so I'm looking forward to it."
ARE TEAMS CLOSER ON RESTRICTOR-PLATE MOTORS? "I think so because you're only working with 400 horsepower instead of 800. A guy could have 20 more horsepower with an open motor and only four or five more with a restrictor-plate motor. I think you're working in a closer parameter. I think the main thing we look for in practice before the 500 is making sure we can get with the right people, learn who will help us and who we won't and make sure we remember that in the race."
DID YOU GET CLEAN LAPS IN PRACTICE THIS MORNING? "You look at all the practice times and you don't know who got a clean lap and who didn't. I think we know how fast we can run, so I think that could put us close to the front. I doubt if we're one of the favorites for the pole. We weren't favored last year, and we weren't favored after we did it, but I kinda like sneaking up on 'em. I'm looking forward to it and looking forward to getting it over with so we can practice our race stuff."