LOS ANGELES (Jan. 12, 2001) -- Jeff Green's yearlong totalitarian reign over the Busch Series officially came to a close Friday night, as the veteran driver was crowned champion at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Green, who won...
LOS ANGELES (Jan. 12, 2001) -- Jeff Green's yearlong totalitarian reign over the Busch Series officially came to a close Friday night, as the veteran driver was crowned champion at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills.
Green, who won a career-high six races and posted a series record 25 top-5s, won the title by a remarkable 616 points over ppc Racing teammate Jason Keller, marking his first championship and the second for the Green family. David Green, the oldest of the racing Green brothers, won the title in 1994.
For his efforts, Jeff Green was awarded $1,929,937.
"2000, what a year," Green said. "We won the most poles, led the most laps, led the most miles, broke records that haven't been broken in over 15 years and even managed to win a few races in the process. I think that is the recipe for a championship."
ppc Racing owner Greg Pollex certainly had a potent recipe in 2000. His drivers finished 1-2 in the standings, with no other competitor coming within 250 points of either of his teams. Keller, who notched a career-high 13 top-5s, finished 276 points ahead of third-place finisher and rookie of the year Kevin Harvick.
Pollex felt he could best sum up his teams' efforts with a quote from William Jennings Bryan:
"'Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved,'" said Pollex. "I believe this quote says it all. When these two great groups of people came together to race we talked about making history. My hats off to you both -- you definitely made history setting more records that we ever could have imagined."
Few could have imagined Harvick would burst onto the Busch Series scene the way he did. The 24-year-old won three races, including a bumper-to-bumper thriller at Bristol in which he held off a hard-charging Keller.
He collected eight top-5s and 16 top-10s, propelling him to the rookie of the year crown, and $10,000 from Raybestos, over Ron Hornaday. Were it not his failure to make the race at Rockingham, Harvick may have given Keller all he could handle for second-place.
During his speech, he made it clear he'd be a contender in 2001. In fact, he offered somewhat of an ultimatum to his competitors.
"All I all we had a great year, taking our first shot at it," Harvick said. "Now that we've got one year under our belt, taking Jeff Green's spot at the table is the goal to obtain between now and next year's banquet. So Jeff, congratulations, enjoy it because we hate to lose and we're going to do whatever it takes."
Alongside the recognition of the top-10 points finishers, several competitors and teams received contingency awards during the ceremony. Randy LaJoie, the seventh-place finisher in the point standings, was awarded the Champion Spark Plug award, and the $20,500 check that goes with it. Winston Cup regular Jeff Burton was given the $12,500 Gatorade Front Runner Award, but wasn't on-hand to accept it. Fifth-place points finisher Ron Hornaday received the Most Popular Driver Award.
For the eighth time in the past 10 years, Terry Dolan, assistant manager for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, received the Bill France Performance Cup Award. John Smeltzer, a Roush Racing engine builder who supplies the power plants for ppc Racing, won the Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award.
During his championship run, Green landed a slew of awards, including the 76 Gasoline Contingency Award ($10,000), the Goodyear Award ($4,000) and the big daddy of them all, the Bud Pole Award ($20,000). -nascar.com-