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
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
"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
"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.
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