Sunday, June 8, 2003

Dow: Green avoids bumps in road


With new sponsor, driver puts dismal 2001 behind him

dow.jpg
David Green is making a pretty good career out of what could have been a mid-life crisis.

Green, 45, comes into Saturday's Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway in possibly the best position of his NASCAR career, well into its second decade.

One year after racing on and off without a team, Green has a fulltime ride with Timber Wolf and had risen to third in the Busch standings after 14 races, entering Saturday's Trace Adkins Chrome 300 in Nashville. Now, he says his next goal is to win at home.

He and his brothers, Jeff and Mark, got their starts in racing at Kentucky Motor Speedway in Whitesville, Ky., thanks to Andy Vertrees, Kentucky Speedway's operations director, who promoted Kentucky Motor Speedway years ago.

"One day, I want to say I was able to win at Kentucky Motor Speedway and hopefully good enough to win at Kentucky Speedway," Green said.

Green had trouble finding a sponsor after a dismal 2001 season in which he said there were issues with the team. He was nothing more than a free agent with a bad reputation as a driver going nowhere last season. It was a long fall from the 1994 Busch season, when he won the overall series and landed a Winston Cup ride the following year, only to lose it and have to start over.

"A lot of people based my abilities just on that 2000-01 season," Green said. "We just didn't have it going on. It was a matter of a bad situation developing into being the model of what you're all about."

Approaching 50, and his career not exactly taking off, Green was surprised to get the call from Timber Wolf before this season. Now, he hasn't stopped thanking the team for taking a chance on him. Of course, the team is pretty happy with his driving. Green has one win this season in the Pepsi 300 at Nashville, his first since 1996, and six top-five finishes.

"To have a full-time ride is the ultimate as a driver," Green said. "I'm so thankful for their support. Any time a driver can have that feeling of support, and then go out and do good, well, it's a great feeling. I've got the best scenario I've ever had, and I hope to capitalize on it."

CHANGING GEARS: Bobby Hamilton Jr. and crew chief Harold Holly will team up in the pits for just the third time Saturday at Kentucky Speedway. Their second race is today in Nashville.

Because of contract stipulations with his previous team, Holly wasn't available for the first race after Hamilton hired him. Hamilton had to run at Nazareth, Pa., three weeks ago with Newt Moore, his Craftsman Truck Series crew chief.

"The change happened a week earlier than we thought it would," Hamilton said of his decision to hire Holly. "We were a top-10 team, but to be top-five, we had to make a change."

Hamilton is in 10th place in the standings, with one top-five finish.

RUDD RACING: Jason Rudd will race for the first time this year at Kentucky. Ricky Rudd's nephew is sponsored by Hampton Inns.

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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