Sunday, June 1, 2003

Dow: RCR leaves Green feeling unloved


Auto racing insider: NASCAR driver still fuming about his dismissal

dow.jpg
If there is anything more than a fast car that any race car driver wants from his team, it's respect and the comforting knowledge that a teammate won't knock you out of a race.

Just ask Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, who has been overshadowed for years by Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, winner of the two previous 500s. Yet after winning at Indy, de Ferran said he never felt secondary to his friend and teammate, and that the only rule they had on the track was "don't take each other out."

If only that "Penske love" came in a package, because the Richard Childress Racing team could have used some in early May.

One month after being fired from RCR, Jeff Green, now with Dale Earnhardt Inc., is still unhappy about the way he was treated.

Green was fired from RCR after he and then-teammate Kevin Harvick were jockeying for position at Richmond International Speedway when Harvick ran into the rear of Green's car, spinning him out of control and into the wall. Once out of his car, Green waited for Harvick to come back around and gestured at Harvick before heading toward Harvick's pit to voice his complaint.

Two days later, Green was given his walking papers.

"I wasn't treated like Kevin Harvick was," said Green, who essentially has swapped places with former DEI driver Steve Park, now with RCR.

"A lot went on down at Richmond that made this decision. I was thrown out of (Harvick's) pits like I wasn't even a teammate."

Even though Green said it's still strange to see the AOL No. 30 car go around without him inside, he believes he is in a better position with DEI, driving Park's old Pennzoil car.

"I don't think you can plan anything any better," Green said. "I was with DEI when it originated back in 1995-96. Now it's kind of like coming back home."

Literally, Green was back in his home state of Kentucky Wednesday testing at Kentucky Speedway with DEI teammate Michael Waltrip. Being on the same team is a return to their roots for Waltrip and Green, who went to high school together and got their racing careers started at Kentucky Motor Speedway in Whitesville, which was owned at the time by current Kentucky Speedway operations director Andy Vertrees.

"It's fun to see friendly faces in the garage next to you," Waltrip said.

Ten years ago, Waltrip gave Green an opportunity to work in his Busch Series garage, jumpstarting Green's NASCAR career.

"He's one of the big reasons I'm even here," Green said. "This is a big family. I'm with these people more than I am with my own family."

POINTS CALAMITY: It's time for NASCAR to update its outdated points system that rewards consistency rather than winning.

If Rusty Wallace, who is currently in 10th place, were to win the last 24 races, and current leader Matt Kenseth finished fourth in all of those races, but led at least one lap, Kenseth would still finish with more points than Wallace.

NASCAR uses the following point distribution system for every race: 175 points for first place and then decreasing increments of five points for second through sixth place. After that, the points go down four points per seventh through 11th place and three-point increments for 12th or lower. There's a five-point bonus for leading a lap and a 10-point bonus for leading the most laps.

But clearly, there aren't enough points for winning a race.

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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