Jeff Green posted his third straight top-10 finish for the 2001 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend, and it was accompanied by charge atop the Busch Series point standings. His fifth-place finish was one of three by ...
Jeff Green posted his third straight top-10 finish for the 2001 season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend, and it was accompanied by charge atop the Busch Series point standings. His fifth-place finish was one of three by Taurus-raced teams, which included five out of the top 10. Ford drivers have contended for the win at each of the last two races, but even more impressive is the fact that it has been accomplished by Busch Series regulars. Green talked about the changes in the Busch Series this year, and the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
JEFF GREEN-10-Nestle NesQuik Ford Taurus -
YOU HAVE TO BE PLEASED WITH THE WAY YOUR 2001 SEASON IS STARTING CONSIDERING ALL OF THE CHANGES YOU WENT THROUGH IN THE OFF-SEASON.
"It's a lot better start than we had last year, but we're still learning about the race car, we're still learning about the new Goodyear tires that they are bringing and the race tracks, as far as the feel I want. We haven't won, but we've got two top-fives and three top-10s out of three races. Our worst finish is eighth, so on a championship run that's what you want, to be consistent like that and I feel that if we keep hanging around the top five, one of these weeks we're going to have a dominant car where we can win with it, too. I'm just proud of my guys. They dug in over the winter and got all of our cars reproduced like we needed to and built new ones. The Ford Taurus is an awesome race car, it's just a little bit different from what we had last year, so we're still learning about that, Harold and myself, both. When we do get it figured out, we feel like we'll be dominant like we were last year, especially around the summertime months where we can put the stretch on them. It's definitely been a great start, and hopefully we'll keep our momentum up." TALK ABOUT THE CHANGE IN THE ENGINE THIS YEAR. "The compression of the motor is now 12:1 over 9:1 from the last four to five years. That's 20 to 30 horsepower, and that just allows you to do more stuff to the carburetor, which allows more air to go through the motor, which is probably close to 100 horsepower in just the carburetor. It's still a 390 carburetor, but they threw some of the gauges away so you can kind of get radical in some areas where it is able to draw more air into to motor, which makes more horsepower. Adding 120 horsepower to the same chassis we had last year, with the same springs and shocks, we had to change our setup a little bit. And then you throw the new Goodyear tire on it, that changes it even more. I think you are seeing a lot different races, we're sliding around a little more, but whether that's the horsepower or the tires, I don't know. I think it's a little bit of both. You put both of those variables on top of it, some guys will figure it out, like Todd Bodine. His car doesn't slide around too much. So, hopefully we can get ours like that before too long."
YOU'VE GOT SOME PRETTY GOOD ROOKIES GOING IN THIS YEAR LIKE GREG BIFFLE.
"Greg is a smart race-car driver. He hangs it out, no doubt about it. Some of the race tracks, other than Rockingham, Las Vegas he had a lot of laps around in a truck, and the horsepower is about the same now. The car probably feels a lot better than the truck did on a track like that. He's had some great finishes and he's run good at just about every race, too, but I didn't really expect him to be this dominant and as close to the front this early. I knew it would happen, but again, he's no dummy and he's a professional race-car driver, so he can get the job done. He'll just be someone that we'll have to try to beat week in and week out. We don't share a lot of information together, but we use the same engine program and we talk a lot about what we're doing, so some of that can filter over on my car down the way to even help us, what they're doing. I think that that's a benefit for us and I don't think it will hurt us any."
ATLANTA IS ONE OF THE QUICKEST TRACKS ON THE CIRCUIT, BUT YOU DIDN'T HAVE A TOP-10 FINISH THERE LAST YEAR.
"We enjoy going down there. Atlanta has been pretty good to me. I've had some good runs there. In '99 with this team, we were running really well and we should have been in the top two or three, but we got into an accident on the restart. And then last year, we had a tire come loose on a pit stop and we lost a lap there. It's one of those tracks that we looked at in the beginning of the year, and it's one of the weekends that we need to better ourselves to be able to win the championship again, and that's what we're doing. We went there and tested a couple of weeks ago and learned a lot about our Ford Taurus, so we feel like we can take our NesQuik Ford Taurus down there and at least have another top-five finish. And if we can do that, we'll have a shot at winning the race, too. A lot of people wrote us off, I think, but other than Vegas, we had a shot to win Daytona, we had a shot to win Rockingham, we just didn't get it done. That's a driver's dream to have that shot week in and week out, so I'm pretty excited and pretty pumped about going to Atlanta."
THERE DON'T SEEM AS MANY WINSTON CUP DRIVERS PARTICIPATING IN THE BUSCH SERIES THIS YEAR. DOES THAT MAKE THE CHAMPIONSHIP SITUATION A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT?
"I don't know. I don't think it does anything to the championship run. Those guys only run a handful of races anyway. I loved racing against Mark Martin. He beat me a lot, don't get me wrong, and I don't enjoy getting beat, but the stuff I learned throughout that day and throughout that weekend really benefits me the rest of the races he's not there. I enjoy those guys coming over and racing, but we've got some great Busch drivers and some great Busch teams, and we have a great time every week. It's just great to race against these guys and I think we put on a heck of a show. If we can keep up with Todd, or if we can all get a little bit better, we can give him a run for his money. My hat's off to him and that race team. They just caught everybody with their pants down, so we're just really working hard over here at ppc Racing to try to make our cars better where I can drive them faster, so hopefully, we can get that job done and get in Victory Lane before long."
THE CAR COUNT SEEMS TO BE DOWN. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS CAUSING THAT.
"I'm pretty sure that the engine rule is affecting a lot of the race teams. They've had to pretty much trash their motors, they could use some of their stuff I guess, but they pretty much had to put a whole motor program back together. The under-budgeted teams, that might have pushed them over the hill, and I'm sure there will be some teams that go by the wayside anyway, even if the rule hadn't come up. To me, it's tough to send 20 teams home each weekend. The magic number is 43, we've been lucky the first three races, we've had about that number and haven't sent too many people home. The way I look at it, you're still going to have to beat those same 30 that you have to beat every week. There are still going to be some cars in there that would have to have an awful lucky day to win, so we're still looking at those same 30. I think that's what they (NASCAR) want. I think they want 43 cars, and they don't want 60 cars and 17 guys have to go home. If that's what they want, then what they've done is right. Economy is probably a little bit of it. Everybody is probably looking down the road, so hopefully down the road is going downhill and not uphill for us and we can keep doing what we've been doing and get our sponsors a lot of advertisement. That's why they keep paying the bills. Getting on TV is what it's all about, so hopefully we can keep doing that job and get our car count back up. I think that will be the key."
DO YOU THINK THE ENGINE RULE WAS NASCAR'S WAY OF WEEDING OUT SOME OF THE LESSER TALENTED TEAMS?
"I don't think so. I think they're just trying to get the rules closer. Basically, a Truck motor, a Busch motor and a Winston Cup motor, I believe the only difference for the motor is the cam is different, and the carburetor is different in our series. The Truck motor and a Cup motor have the same carburetor, but the Busch motor's carburetor is different. You put all that closer together, and down the road, it's going to be better for everyone - the motor builder, the team and everything. Hopefully, we'll inherit the cost on the other end. I'm sure the team owners are spending more money this year, but five or six years down the road, hopefully that cost will go the other way. I think that's what's in their mind, and I think it will be an easy transition for the Busch guys to go to Winston Cup and vice versa, for the Cup guys to come down and run with us. That's probably more on their mind than anything."
A LOT THESE GUYS THAT ARE GOING HOME ARE THE SAME GUYS EVERY WEEK.
"Especially if you've got somebody on the side of your car, a sponsor, you've got to perform. A lot of times last year, these Busch regulars were going home and the Cup guys were making the race, and everybody was down on the Cup guys for racing with us. But as a driver looking in, I need to go home and work on my race team if I can't make the race, or my skills. I know, I've been there before, I felt like I knew what was wrong. You can't blame somebody else for making the race because you didn't. You just have to go home and work really hard and try to make your team better. A lot of times you see guys that sit on a pole one weekend and they're 30th place the next. That's not because they gave up, it's because the other 29 probably worked harder than they did that week. That's just the way I look at it, and it's probably a hard-nose way of looking at it. I feel like that's the truth, and that's what I stick by."