Green to Replace Cope at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 6, 1998) Jeff Green will drive the No. 30 Gumout Pontiac at Martinsville Speedway, replacing Derrike Cope who is injured. Green drives for the No. 29 Diamond Ridge Motorsports team, but the team had decided...

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 6, 1998)

Jeff Green will drive the No. 30 Gumout Pontiac at Martinsville Speedway, replacing Derrike Cope who is injured. Green drives for the No. 29 Diamond Ridge Motorsports team, but the team had decided to take two races off and return for Talladega.

Testing at Martinsville this week are Bobby Labonte, Ernie Irvan, Brett Bodine, Dale Jarrett, Jerry Nadeau, Chad Little and maybe a few others.

Green talked about his replacement run, his regular team's future and his thoughts on Martinsville: What are you doing today? "This is a brand new car that the guys have built. We're getting the first laps on it today and getting me used to it too because I am going to be driving it for Derrike here. So we are just trying to get going good and trying some different stuff. I think they are trying a lot of stuff so they will have notes when they go to other race tracks, not just here. So it's going good. What's the situation with your team (No. 29 Diamond Ridge Motorsports)? "We are just taking a couple of weeks off. Wes Ward, my crew chief, he was acting as general manager and crew chief and he wouldn't see the race cars until we got to the track and it just wasn't working. I can do a better job than I was showing and we wasn't really hitting on much in the points so it's not hurting us any to take a couple of weeks off. We are going to Talladega for our next race. We had a brand new car for here so I kinda miss bringing our car here, but this worked into a good deal. At least I will be racing. I've known some of these guys for a long time, and I worked with Chuck Rider so it's kind of neat for me to go to work for them." So your job with Diamond Ridge is not in jeopardy? "Oh no. We could have went on racing, but we decided we needed a week or so off to get situated to where we could run better. I feel like when we go to Talladega we will make up for these two weeks off in the performance end of it." So this is a one-race deal with Bahari' Racing? "Yeah. Unless something goes wrong where Derrike can't come back for Talladega and we don't get our deal back going in time. We are going to Talladega Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week to test the 29 car. So, I'm pretty busy this week. That's my main objective is the 29 car. That's want's on my mind." Can you learn something in this car that you can carry over to the No. 29 car? "Well my eyes and ears are open on everything we change. It's a test for us. It's a test for me. Yes, I can take it back to my team. What we learn on this car will work on our car. Anytime you can get a car to go around Martinsville Speedway you can just about anywhere and get it to go around. Yea, I can learn a lot today." How much experience do you have here? "I ran a couple of Busch races and the fall Winston Cup race here. So I don't have a lot." So this has to help you? "It does. I mean when you come up here next week to qualify you've got two hours to two and a half hours to practice and then you go right into two laps qualifying. Anytime you can come up here and get hundreds of laps on this race track, it's going to help you when you come back. You just don't have a lot of time when everyone is here when you go to qualify. I wish we could test every race we go to, but it's not available and we can't do that. But it is good to come test. " What will you do today? "We are working race stuff just to see if we can get the car turning good in the middle. That's the objective here is to get the car turning good in the middle so we can drive straight up off the corner. We will probably work on a couple of qualifying runs. But it will be mostly race stuff. We have a couple of sticker sets of tires so we're going to make a couple of qualifying runs this afternoon or tomorrow." You've heard guys talking about going to a new team at the start of the season and how difficult it is to get everything to come together, how tough is it to come in for a one race deal? "Well, I don't know. I don't think it's that tough. A lot of times it works out better. A lot of times you will see a new driver come in and they run better than they have all year. Hopefully we can do that. Again, it's not a new deal. I have known a lot of these guys a long time. I feel fortunate to be able to come over here in relief for Derrike and Gumout and Pontiac and everybody. Putting the trust in me to do the job and I think we can." How did this deal come about? Who called who? "We didn't make Bristol with the 29 car so I stood by for Derrike for that race and when he got hurt at Texas, Chuck was the first one who came to me if they did make the race by provisional I was going to race it there. Unfortunately, they didn't make it by provisional so this is our next objective to come up here. It kind of worked out good for them not to make it. It means they got to work on this car yesterday or they wouldn't have been able to do this. I was scheduled to go to Talladega, Wednesday so I wouldn't have been able to do this (later this week). Everything happens for a reason. Is Martinsville an ideal place to come for one race? "Not really. It's going to be tough. But again, if you have a good enough car, you can be at the front. No doubt about it. That's why we are here. That's why we are testing. We want to be better. No lap is good enough for me yet. So until I see the checkered flag and I'm sitting over there in that square box (Victory Lane) that car's not good enough. Doug (Hewitt, crew chief) asked me a little while ago, the car felt good, but we want to know how to make it better. We are not going to give up until we can make it the best we can or until tomorrow is over. We will try to make it even better when we come back. For a guy like you that has so much short track experience, does it feel pretty good to get back on a short track? "I grew up on short tracks, and I really love the short tracks. But the speedway's I've had better luck on. Still again, I love short track racing. It's our roots. It's all the driver's roots I guess. To be able to rub on guys and not crash them. If you rub on a guy at Texas or Charlotte, you are going to crash them. Here you can come and rub and be the driver you want to be. The guy that wins the race probably doesn't have a lot of tire marks, but he's going to have some on him. We try to make our car the best we can so we can pass people and not have to turn them sideways to do that." Is it a place you can work out a few frustrations? "It can get that way. You have to race these guys every week. I look at it that way. I'd rather race 500 laps and not touch a guy than turn him sideways. Nice guys don't always win, I try to be as nice as I can and drive as clean as I can." Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brett Bodine , Derrike Cope , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Jeff Green , Jerry Nadeau , Chad Little