JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Charger) NOTE: Green posted the fourth and fifth fastest times in the morning session. CAN YOU FEEL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE MOTOR? "It's hard to come to a restrictor-plate racetrack and really tell a lot...
JEFF GREEN (No. 43 Cheerios Dodge Charger)
NOTE: Green posted the fourth and fifth fastest times in the morning session.
CAN YOU FEEL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE MOTOR?
"It's hard to come to a restrictor-plate racetrack and really tell a lot about motors because you're so underpowered anyway, but I think every driver will tell you coming up through the gears is the tale of the tape. Coming up through the gears repeats on your lap, too, so the faster you get up to speed the more speed you're going to have basically. So, yes, I think I can tell a difference. I think the big test will be in two weeks at Las Vegas and California, but I think we're ahead of where we were last year already."
YOU WON THE POLE FOR THE 2002 DAYTONA 500. IS THAT POSSIBLE AGAIN IN 2005?
"We're knocking on the door being that good. We unloaded second or third quickest here. We really hadn't put forth any effort to go faster. We just tried some things to see if it helps or hurt. Those guys last week ran pretty good, but the weather was a lot different. I don't know if the wind was blowing like it is today, either. You really can't compare last week and say we're quicker. Hopefully the week will get better as we go and we can compare to that. We're a little bit off from where they were last week."
IS THIS THE FIRST TIME YOU'VE TESTED THE CHARGER?
"We went to Kentucky with it in December. I'm pretty happy with it. It's different looking in the front because it's got a different intake on the radiator, but with the new rules, the spoiler rules, I think what Dodge did and all the hard work they did will pay off for us. I think it's a better racetrack. Hopefully the downforce we lost with a shorter spoiler, the other guys lost more than we did and the Charger will help us get back on the top of the game."
DO YOU FEEL RACIER IN THE CHARGER?
"Any time you put something that's been successful back in play I think that helps everything. It makes for a better racecar. I haven't seen the passenger car yet, but hopefully it'll look more like the racecar and hopefully we'll be able to sell them on Mondays after we win on Sundays with them."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN PICK UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF LAST SEASON?
"Sometimes when you change you stumble a little bit, but I don't think we've stumbled any, I don't think. It seems like Greg Steadman (crew chief) and I have really hit it off. Greg has been able to fix the car better throughout the race for me, and make it drive better and handle better. That's where you win races. That's where you're able to beat everybody else with how you adjust through the day. That's the biggest plus. Greg has got everybody in line. He's a very people person, and that's what it takes. It takes chemistry. Everybody's got to work good together. I see that more in him than a lot of crew chiefs I've worked with."
IS WINNING THE No. 1 PRIORITY?
"My goal is to win races and be competitive each week. If you do that you're going to be there. I think if you start out the season just to collect points and make sure you're in the top 10 it's probably not going to happen. The main thing is to try to be as good as you can each week. I try to do my job through the week, try to get information to Greg on the weekend so we can make our cars better each and every week. If we can do that, we'll be competitive. Our problem last year was once we got competitive we couldn't finish. The motors would blow up or we'd get in accidents or things like that. The main thing is for me to do my job to get the information back and go out and try to win every week. If you can't do that, then you try to do the best job you can. If you have a fifth place car, try to finish fifth or maybe fourth. You can't try to win with it and not bring anything home, so that's my main focus. I was lucky enough to win a Busch Championship, so that's my goal. That's what I concentrate on each and every week is do what the car will let me do and not try to make anything else out of it. I was lucky enough to finish in the top five a lot that way because we had top five cars. Hopefully we can get our Cheerios Dodge that way, too."
WOULD IT BE EASIER FOR YOU TO WIN A RACE OR MAKE THE CHASE?
"I think as young as we are it would be easier to win a race. We still have hurdles we have to get over, but if you're that competitive you're not going to step up and just win one. You've got to be competitive enough to run in the top 10 and top five. Every once in awhile somebody is going to win on gas mileage, but for the most part, I want to make our team and car as competitive as we can make it, make it a top five car every week and if you have a bad day finish 10th with it. If we can do that we'll have a chance to win, too."
DO YOU GO TO ANY TRACKS WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE AN EDGE?
"Not with these guys. This competition level is so high everybody runs good everywhere. Personally, I think I get around any track as good as anybody else. I don't dislike going anywhere. I love to go to Richmond and the other short tracks because that's what we grew up on, but I love to go to California and Vegas and Michigan. In my earlier days, four or five years ago, there were places I didn't like to go, but you go there and run good, so it made you like it."
DID YOU TALK TO KYLE ABOUT HIS TEST HERE LAST WEEK?
"I haven't talked to Kyle, but Greg went over a lot of stuff they did. You can't really tell, especially at a test or practice what Kyle's got. It's good for us because we can use his information. He got us really close before we unloaded. When I rode off pit road this morning I was pretty upbeat when I shifted into high gear. That's really I tell as a driver how a restrictor
plate motor really runs. How good it comes up to speed and how quick you can get it in high gear. I got it into high gear pretty quick. I was pretty happy about that."
SO THE EVERNHAM MOTORS WILL MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE?
"Well, they bring more than the motors. They bring the whole motor package, tailpipes, carburetor, the whole nine yards. From the radiator until it goes out the exhaust pipes is an Evernham deal. I think it's a better deal than just bringing the motor. They've researched and developed and they know what works. That's better for us too, and I think that gets us ahead of the game. We can go to each and every race now and not have to worry about the motor, not have to even think about the motor program. With the gear rule now, you don't have to think about the gears, either, so all we have to do is work on our cars and make them drive good. I think we'll have a shot at being very competitive."
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE A BIG LEARNING CURVE WITH THE CHARGER?
"I don't think so. We still go to the wind tunnel, and we're still looking for the same kind of numbers. With the spoiler the way it is, we're still looking for the same kind of aerodynamics. There's definitely going to be a little learning curve on some of these tracks with the shorter blade in traffic. I think that's probably the biggest thing we're going to have to learn and everybody will have to learn how it's going to react around 40 other cars. It's going to be different because we don't have much to hold us down back there."
GETTING THE 43 BACK IN VICTORY LANE WOULD MEAN A LOT TO A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T YOU THINK?
"It would be the happiest day in my life. The 43 is old school, and I think the fans pull for the 43 because of that. I was driving into the track today and it was Richard Petty Blvd. That sent chills down my back. Me being able to drive that racecar is pretty awesome."