The NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference featured Jeff Green, driver of the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), and his crew chief, Todd Berrier. Green is coming off a career best finish of second place...
The NASCAR Winston Cup teleconference featured Jeff Green, driver of the No. 30 America Online Chevrolet Monte Carlo for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), and his crew chief, Todd Berrier.
Green is coming off a career best finish of second place at last weekend's New England 300 and currently sits 18th in the point standings. The NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, July 28.
Highlights of the press conference:
Q:What's your perspective on the first half of the season and your outlook going into the second half?
"The first half of the season we haven't been as strong as we have wanted to be. Both Jeff and I have been used to winning races and running good. We knew we weren't going to come over here and whip the world to start with. We knew we have to build up to get here. I think some things haven't gone our way but opportunities were there. We've had some real good runs. We've had some engine failures or some bad pit moves that have caught us behind. We've worked hard on getting the pit crews where they need to be. Jeff and I have worked on knowing what each other wants and needs and getting that car where it's got to be. I feel like it's coming along and I'm sure we're going to run better the second half of the season. It's getting better and better. I don't expect to go out there and whip the world instantly. We've got to go our there and run consistently in the top 10 before we're going to win a race or whatever. It would be nice to win right now. It would have been nice to win last weekend. But we've got to finish fifth, we've got to finish second on a consistent basis to know that we're capable of winning races."
Q:Was your second place finish at Loudon a boost for the crew?
"Oh yeah, it helps them a bunch. Knowing that we're capable of doing it but never piecing it all together has helped those guys. It gets them jacked up and working harder. Not that they don't work hard already, but it give them a boost. It gives the whole team a boost. All three (RCR) cars finished in the top 10 last week. There are a lot of things getting done in the shop this week and everyone is smiling and happy. It's got to help a lot."
Q:On the height of the cars to pass post-race inspection
"It's more difficult than you'd think (to keep the cars the right height). You are trying to get the thing as low as you can get it and you still try to give yourself an eighth-inch cushion in there. But nowadays with the tires and cars the way they are, we run a real soft spring and some stuff. Sometimes they do give up some during the race. Like Dale Jarrett this week - being an eight-inch low - is kind of a gamble. I'm sure he started an eighth-inch higher or something. What we're trying to do is run springs that we've run before. There are times we have to put a brand new spring in the car and race one we hadn't raced before and the thing seemed to settle some and it costs you a little height. We're trying to be on the conservative side. Ideally, you don't want the $25,000 fine. You don't want points taken away from Jeff or Richard or the team. When we go to Indianapolis or even Pocono this week, you're really going to have to be on it because that eighth-inch is going to mean something. We're going to have to get all we can get and at the end of the race be right on the mark."
Q:Are you and other crew chiefs taking a closer look at this since NASCAR has increased the penalties?
"Oh yeah. There are certain brands of spring that some of us are running that have continually lost a little bit of height. Kevin Hamlin and Gil Martin and myself talked this morning about not running those spring anymore just because of this week and making sure we've got all the right stuff we need. And yet when you do have an advantage, you do have a spring or something that will get you lower on the track and hopefully come back. You've got to kind of take a chance, but you don't want to cut it so close that it's going to cost you points. I feel like it's going to get worse as it goes along. What happens to us at Pocono this week is not going to be the exact same thing, I'm sure. So we've got to be leaning on getting our stuff closer."
Q:On making the move from being Kevin Harvick's crew chief last year in Busch to Jeff Green this year in Winston Cup
"Last year, I was working with Kevin and Jeff at the same time when Jeff ran seven Cup races. We made a commitment. I made one to Jeff and he made one to me that we were going to make this thing work. We've been going forward ever since the first race of the year. We haven't being going back. Things have been getting better and better. I just didn't see changing our team when we were already going forward. It was the thing for us to do. Kevin and I are good friends and Jeff and I are good friends, too. We had to put that aside and look at the performance side of things and this team as a whole. We've moved shops in the middle of the year and then to turn around and switch drivers and teams and shirt colors would just be something else to throw at these guys. I felt like we were getting stronger week by week and that we should continue going that way and not start from ground zero again."
Q:Was it a jolt to switch from the Busch Series to the level of Winston Cup?) "The competition level is a little bit higher over here, but you still know that your driver knows how to win and your team knows how to win. Ideally, Jeff and myself and our team want to work at it harder to win over here because it is harder. We're happy to be here and we want the competition to get harder and harder year after year. That's what we're all in it for - to be the best at what we do."
Q:Do you feel more pressure because of NASCAR's increased penalties?
"I think we all feel more pressure because of that. When it was a money thing, the money didn't really matter. Hey, if we won the race this weekend at Loudon and they wanted to take the win, it would still go down in the books that we won the race. So you really didn't worry about that. They were going to have to do something like this - take away points or even throw you out - they have to make a stand on it for it to make a difference in the way we do things. Before that, so what if you got a $50,000 fine? You don't want it. But if that's what it takes to win a race or run good, and that's all they're going to do then you've got to look at it on the competition side of it. If you can pay 50 grand to win a race, then that's what you've got to do. They had to take a stronger stance on it. Now, everybody is taking more note to it and saying we'd better not get ourselves busted. We're all looking at it a lot harder."
-team monte carlo-