Green Signs On With RCR

JOLIET, Ill. - As expected, Richard Childress Racing announced Saturday that 2000 Busch Series champion Jeff Green signed a three-year deal to drive the No. 30 AOL-sponsored Chevy in the Winston Cup Series next season.

“It’s great for my career to be associated with RCR and AOL,” Green said. “We want to win races for Chevy and my job is fun right now.

“Dale Earnhardt gave me an opportunity to drive a Busch car in 1995, and unfortunately he can’t be here right now, but this is another opportunity – with he and Richard being such good friends - he’s given me.”

Green has run a couple of races in the No. 30 car this season, and will be competing in the car Sunday, and later in the year at Indianapolis, Bristol, Richmond and Charlotte.

Green says his future will not affect the present, where he’s fourth in the Busch Series points standings.

“We’re all adults here, and you can bet everyone involved with the No. 10 Nesquik team will be doing it’s best the rest of this season,” Green said. “And for next year, the driver is only part of the team and crew chief Harold (Holly) and those guys are great. I know they’ll find a great driver and do a great job.”

Childress said he wasn’t ready to make any announcements on the future of Mike Skinner in his No. 31 Chevy, but he thinks having three Winston Cup cars will pay off for his team.

“Just being able to have so much more track time is a big advantage,” Childress said. “It’s a trend you’re going to see in the near future, and we wanted to be on the front end of that trend, not the tail end.”

Childress also said he’s had his eye on Green for some time.

“I always liked the way Jeff drives, even when he was in Winston Cup before,” Childress said. “I like how he handles himself, he has all the potential to be a championship driver and that’s what RCR is all about.”

Green said he’s excited to show off that championship potential.

“The only way I’d ever come back to Cup was with championship equipment and a great sponsor, and I think I can get the job done now,” Green said. “There’s no way I’d ever leave what I have to go run 30th in Winston Cup.”

Green’s crew chief will be Todd Berrier, who has been the crew chief for the No. 30 and Green this season.

“Jeff and Todd and the rest of the AOL team have worked well together right from the start,” Childress said. “Chemistry is such an important part of a successful race team.”

Green has had great success and chemistry in the Busch Series, but has always had his eye on Cup.

“I was tickled to death to win races and a championship in the Busch Series, but every driver in the garage area will tell you they want to run Winston Cup,” Green said. “I was blessed to be picked for this.”

In 50 Winston Cup starts prior to this season - for owners such as Junior Johnson, Gary Bechtel and Felix Sabates - Green had one top-10 finish (1997).

Practice Makes Perfect: Dale Jarrett qualified outside of the Top 10? No worries. Jeff Gordon qualified outside the Top 20? No worries.

In Saturday morning’s practice at Chicagoland Speedway, Jarrett was fastest among the 43 drivers with a fast lap of 179.057 mph. Second fastest in the practice was Gordon, the Winston Cup points leader who had a disappointing qualifying run Friday and will start Sunday’s race 28th.

In the afternoon Happy Hour practice, Gordon was fastest (179.152), followed by Jimmy Spencer, Steve Park, Jerry Nadeau, Tony Stewart, Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday, Jarrett and Kevin Harvick.

"The car is real strong. We're real happy with it. We weren't real happy with our performance yesterday (qualifying)," said Gordon. "I think we had a much better car than that, but that's just the way it goes. We've got our work cut out for us to get up through the field tomorrow. Hopefully we can do that and get a real strong finish."

Speaking of No Worries: The Dodge camp isn’t concerned with not getting to victory lane yet this season. Team owner Ray Evernham told the media at Chicagoland Speedway he’s satisfied with the progress the manufacturer has made in the first half of the year.

"From the Dodge technology and Dodge support side of things, I think everything we planned from Dodge Motorsports is right on track, bringing the motor along, the cars, the way the teams are working together,” said Evernham, who fields a two-car operation with drivers Bill Elliott and Casey Atwood. “From the Evernham Motorsports side of things, I probably underestimated the amount of work we had to do and the amount of time we had to do it. We're just now getting to the point where we’ve got some consistency in our cars, some consistency with the guys on our race team.”

Elliott led Dodge’s Chicagoland Speedway qualifying effort and will start fourth in Sunday’s Tropicana 400.

Poo Poo Provisionals: It’s been a trying season for A.J. Foyt’s Conseco Pontiac and driver Ron Hornaday. The team has missed several events, including last week’s Pepsi 400.

”It’s been hard on everybody,” said Foyt. "You can’t afford to take a lot of chances when you have no provisionals. I’ve always liked the idea of having the fastest 43 cars make the race. All this provisional crap is a bunch of crap."

Home Town Hero: Chicago's Wayne Messmer electrified Saturday's huge crowd with a stirring rendition of the national anthem. The singer is a staple at Chicago sporting events and performs the anthem at a number of Cubs, Blackhawks and Wolves games throughout the year. Messmer's career was nearly cut short a few years ago when he was shot in the neck during a robbery attempt.

Friendly Neighbors?: The Windy City's two speedways are engaged in a battle to attract Chicago's race fans. So with nearly 70,000 fans on hand for Saturday's inaugural event at Chicagoland Speedway, the nearby Chicago Motor Speedway took the opportunity to fly a plane with a banner touting the upcoming CART Target Grand Prix. Wonder if the skies above Cicero will have a message from the folks in Joliet at the end of the month.

Chicago Fire: Derrike Cope's team had a scary moment on lap 88 when his Coinstar/2 Qwik Chevrolet caught fire in the pits. Several crew members and track safety personnel rushed to put out the flames, which started under the hood of the car and burned through to the front wheel wells. One member of Cope's crew suffered minor burns.

Pardus Examined: Busch driver Dan Pardus was taken to a nearby Joliet hospital for examination after being involved in a hard crash with David Donohue near the midway point of the Hills Bros 300. Pardus drove hard into the rear of David Donohue's car on the backstretch after Donohue hit the wall and spun to the middle of the racetrack.

Pardus, who was placed in a head and neck brace, was transported from the track by ambulance.

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