As Busch Series testing wrapped up at Daytona International Speedway for next month's Hershey's Take 5 300, ppc racing teammates Kenny Wallace and Michel Jourdain, Jr., and ST Motorsports' Jon Wood commented on the test session and the ...
As Busch Series testing wrapped up at Daytona International Speedway for next month's Hershey's Take 5 300, ppc racing teammates Kenny Wallace and Michel Jourdain, Jr., and ST Motorsports' Jon Wood commented on the test session and the upcoming season. David Green, who suffered from a kidney stone attack early Saturday morning and wasn't able to test until yesterday afternoon, talked about his health and the progress his team made with Aaron Fike behind the wheel of his Brewco Ford.
DAVID GREEN -27-Kleenex Ford Taurus
YOU SUFFERED FROM A KIDNEY STONE ATTACK ON SATURDAY AND WERE FORCED TO MISS THE FIRST DAY OF TESTING. DO YOU FEEL BETTER TODAY?
"Absolutely. Yesterday I felt kind of OK. Saturday night I felt really bad. I laid down and it seemed like I woke up every three hours or so. The medication that they gave me - they told me to take one every three hours or so - and I don't know if it was wearing off so each time I woke up I took some, which they said was fine. I tried not to take any past four o'clock that morning, so I got up and came to the track and I was getting ready to get out of my car out here and I could feel it coming on again. I turned around, and it was about eight o'clock, so I went back and laid down some more. I went back over to the hotel and laid down for an hour and it went away, and then when I came back over I've been good ever since. I got in the car at one o'clock yesterday just to let the medicine wear off, so I wouldn't make a right turn instead of a left somewhere out there. I feel fine now, and that's just the characteristics of this stuff. The other time that I had it, once it's gone it goes and leaves you. The question is: when will the next time be? Hopefully that's never."
DID YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL?
"I went there, but I didn't stay overnight. There's nothing like that kind of feeling. The hospital is the best place for you and they couldn't get me there fast enough after I left here. Aaron Fike drove my car a little bit on Saturday. We had tested Talladega on Thursday, so I had driven both of our cars down there and was very excited about our new Ford Tauruses. I was geared up and ready to go on Saturday. Out of all winter long for this kidney stone to hit, why did it pick the first day of testing? But, at least it's behind us now. I got in the car at one and made one single run and then went out and drafted. Biffle drove my car prior to lunchtime, and he liked how it felt, so when I got in it it felt good to me, too. That was a good comparison that he can jump in my car and I can jump in his and see how we compare notes with one another. Man, I can't say enough of how proud I am of Stewart Cooper, my new crew chief, and Greg's crew chief Newt Moore. When our deal came together with Ford we not only got new cars built but we got old cars redone, and we were able to come up to speed almost immediately through the help of Ford Motor Co. on the changeover. The cars have driven beautiful for me; some of the best cars that I have ever driven. I'm not saying that to make Stewart feel good on his first endeavor into a crew chief role, but the whole package of the Ford body and the engine combination has been tremendous."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU WILL BE COMPETITIVE WHEN THE BUSCH SERIES COMES BACK HERE IN FEBRUARY?
"I kind of base things on being able to go out there and be in the draft and be able to make moves offensively versus playing defense all of the time. In years past it seems like we really struggled with our car, so when you go out there in the race you play defense. I say that meaning every position that you gain you're scratching and clawing for it, and you've got be so defensive with your competitors to stay up there. Now we have cars that we can maybe make a wrong move or get shuffled out and advance right back to the front. Yesterday I was happy to go out there and be able to run like we did because probably the two best cars the past years have been the DEI cars, and we were able to go out there and run with those guys and mix it up with those guys. I know we're holding a little bit back and we've got some more to bring back when we come here for the race, and I'm sure they do too as well. But, absolutely, I think this is the best shot I've ever had to come down here and not just qualify good, but race good and race competitively. If you can stay in that pack and you're car does what my car did yesterday, we have as good as a shot as anybody. And, Greg's car is equal to my car. We've got two really good Ford Tauruses that we're excited about. We've got the covers on those things right now and we're playing with our other car right now."
YOU TYPICALLY SPEND ALL OF SPEED WEEKS DOWN HERE. WHY IS THAT?
"I'll come down on the 9th and media day is the 10th. I think one reason why I like it is because I've been coming down here a long time and it's a time to get the wheels rolling for the season. When I missed Saturday because of being in the hospital, I really felt like I was a day behind yesterday. I felt like I missed my flight and I got here late. By getting down here early for the race weekend, you really get in tune with it. We're not on the track, but the Cup guys are here, and now with our involvement with Ford, and there are Robert and Doug Yates and I have some friends in that camp as well, you can go over and see what's going on and hang out and get in the groove. Plus, as much as I like this place, I don't want to say I dislike it but it's been a thorn in my side because I haven't run good here. I'm excited to get here this year because I know we can change that around. It's all good and we're ready to go."
YOU HAD SUCCESS YOUR FIRST OUTING HERE SITTING ON THE POLE FOR THE RACE.
"The first time that I ever came here I sat on the pole, and I thought, 'I know that somewhere along the line that it is not going to be this easy as far as sitting on the pole.' So, over the years I feel like I've got some experience to race from pole, and I've only come close enough to be second one year. With the new format of impounding, which I think is all good, and like we're seeing here in testing, this is the best thing that has ever happened because now whether you're a new guy or a veteran, to be able to come out and draft, the drafting practice I got yesterday far exceeds anything that I would ever have gotten during race week here. If your team uses this accordingly with your data, this is going to be huge for our effort here in Daytona for Speed Weeks. It's not all where you start but where you finish, but it's also going to be good if we can sit on the pole for Ford and everybody involved."
AS A VETERAN DRIVER, THE ROOKIES MUST LOOK UP TO YOU. WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR THEM?
"Sometimes I take that as a good and a bad because it seemed like Brian Vickers was a good friend of mine and I hung out with him before he got the opportunity with Hendrick, but in the end he beat me by 14 points for the championship, not that he should have pulled over or anything like that. I was very proud of the fact that as we talked about things each week at the race track, and some of those races I chased him to the checkered flag and finished behind him, those things that I saw him do were the things that we talked about. As we talked about, it was something that I hope to be able to do with my car and he obviously hoped to do with his car, and he was able to do it and I was able to do it. The year I spotted for Dale Jarrett for a few races taught me a lot from a different perspective, and it's those things that you learn that I try to put into place. It's nice to know that there are some young guys out there that respect what you're saying. As I say all of this stuff, it's simply to make the transition easier. I know that I had guys early one, Bobby Labonte that I drove for, helped me to miss some of the moving chicanes in your career as you come up. Maybe in the end if they beat you it really isn't worth doing all of that, but deep down personally I'm very proud of that and I know they know on the race track that I'll treat them fairly and they'll treat me fairly, too, and it's all good that way because then you can go out and race."
IS THERE NOW A RIVALRY BETWEEN THE YOUNG DRIVERS AND THE OLD DRIVERS?
"Up until the last year or so I never thought about retirement or not driving. 2002 made me think a lot about it because I didn't think I would ever get to drive again. The last two years have really put that out of my mind. As you have birthdays and you see the candles get a little bit bigger in number, and the whole influx of young guys, you just know sooner or later sponsors or owners are just going to rule out a certain age, unless you were Dale Earnhardt that was 50. If we can go out and win a lot of races this year and win the championship that would dispel a lot of rumblings about old guys, but I think for the most part there are a lot of guys in the sport for a while that haven't gotten to prove their worth. If my career ended tomorrow, I'm satisfied with all that has happened and I feel like I've accomplished a lot of goals, and really everything that I could in the sport and more than that. I think that the rivalry stems from the young guys coming in and wanting to make a name for themselves right now, saying, 'This guy has been in the sport way too long and we need to shuffle him out of the deck because that would open room for another guy.' Well, some of us older guys are a little too stubborn to do that quite yet. Dale Jarrett and Sterling Marlin in the Cup Series, and Mark Martin, are still making us experienced guys proud because they keep doing well."
CAN A VETERAN DRIVER MAKE A RUN AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN THIS DAY AND AGE?
"I think in 2003, nobody would have given us a shot to be in the position we were in. Last year after Texas and taking the point lead, struggling with two different makes of one manufacturer in the middle of switching all of this stuff in with personnel issues with people wanting to leave and Brewer didn't know about it, we had a pretty good year. With all of our DNFs and engine problems, I would be really disappointed if we're not a part of the bunch that's looking to be there. This team is made up of a bunch of young guys. We have a very young group of guys on both of these teams with Biffle and I being the older bunch out of all of our team members. We're poised and we have all of the tools right now. I feel like I'm a better driver than ever before, without a question, and hungry as ever before, so we're there."
YOU ONLY HAVE GREG AS A TEAMMATE FOR 15 RACES THIS YEAR, SO HOW WILL THAT IMPACT YOU RUN AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
"I think as we get down into the grind, the leaning-on effect will probably diminish versus testing. It's real easy to come lean on different things during testing, but I think it's going to be more of our crew chiefs working together. The thing about Greg, those 15 races are probably most of our high-profile races anyway. Him not being around as much because he's over driving the Cup car or if he's not driving the Busch car and we're at a companion race, he's still at that same facility. Our communication has been excellent so far, and I feel like that will continue. Aaron drove my car some down here and we're seeing a little bit of a difference between what he's feeling and what I'm feeling, but he's brand new at it. I think it's really going to work out, and like I said earlier, I can't say enough about Newt Moore and Stewart working together. We have never had the type of unison between our crew chiefs as we have right now. We hope that heats up, meaning both of our teams are winning and then it becomes a fact where one crew chief wants to beat the other one in the amount of races they win. That's a good problem to have, and we hope that's where it ends up. I don't really see it being an issue unless I ended up beating Greg too many times and he zips up, but I don't think that would happen. It's going to be a friendly, competitive teammate situation that we have."