Editorial

Please, please, let me go!

by Dave Yaeck
May 7, 2003

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In racing, as it is in life, nothing is forever.

The proof in that statement can be found among the drivers in the NASCAR Winston Cup series. Change is a never-ending roller coaster that will put a driver on top one day, and sending them on a steep downward slide the next.

Jeff Green, No. 30 America Online Chevrolet, was abruptly released from Richard Childress Racing on Monday afternoon, possibly the result of a verbal altercation with Childress and crew chief Todd Berrier, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, Saturday night during the Pontiac Excitement 400. That bit of verbal jousting brought about after Greenís teammate Kevin Harvick bumped him out of the race. Harvick got into the back of Green when Green checked up coming out of turn one on lap 268, sending Green to the garage for the remainder of the evening and a 40th place finish.

An agitated Green immediately went over to the No. 29 pit stall yelling at Berrier before car owner Childress pulled him down and then they exchanged words. After that Green was adamant to television and radio reporters that Harvick punted him intentionally.

"I don't know,Ē said Green. ďI'm sure he's going to have a different story, but I know what happened -- he spun me out."

Despite being the highest place RCR driver in the 2002 point standings and starting on the pole for the 2003 Daytona 500, Green found his position within the organization was less than secure.

"Our relationship was not where we had hoped it would be at this point so we decided to make this move now," Childress said of the firing. "Jeff is a very good race car driver but sometimes change can be good for everyone involved."

Green had a slightly different take on the situation.

"I don't know if it's the latest step in a great, big chemistry experiment at RCR," Green said, chuckling, of his demise. "I think all of us have tried to do the best job we could, to win races, and I've tried to do the darnedest job I could in the seat.

The season also has not been kind to Steve Park. Park driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, was released from his driving duties one day after Green was given the boot at RCR.

Park, under intense scrutiny since the beginning of the season for performance issues, appeared to be turning his season around two weeks ago at the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway when he took the pole there overtaking favorite Ryan Newman. But on the second turn of the first lap of the race, he was involved in an accident with Newman and finished 38th. Last Saturday in the Pontiac Excitement 400 Park was once again involved in a crash. This one 42 laps into the 400 lap event. His car was not repairable forcing Park to settle for a 43rd place finish.

That crash may have been the straw that broke the camelís back. News of Park ís release hit the street late Tuesday afternoon.

"Steve was instrumental in DEIís first NASCAR Winston Cup program," stated Teresa Earnhardt. "Our loyalty to each other was hard to overcome, however the time came where we simply had to make a change.

"We wish Steve the best in his future endeavors."

Park, DEI's first full-time Winston Cup driver was first hired in the fall of 1996, ironically to replace the departing Jeff Green. Park raced his first full season for DEI in 1997, finishing third in the season-long point standings and clinching rookie-of-the-year honors.

Park moved up to the Winston Cup Series as Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped behind the wheel of the Busch Series car driven by Park. He made 157 starts, two wins and three poles with a career high 11th place finish in the 2000 point standings.

At press time, it was announced that Jeff Green would become the interim driver for the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet beginning at the Winston Open a week from Saturday. Green has also secured a ride for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway with his old crew chief Harold Holly to Team Amick Motorsports.

The author can be contacted nascar@autoracing1.com

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Author

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