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Mike Neff · Thursday August 11, 2011
Mark Green is the middle brother among the racing Green brothers from Owensboro, Kentucky. While he’s never competed in the Cup series, he has logged 311 starts in the Nationwide division dating back to 1995, experiencing a moderate degree of success. Finishing no better than 11th in the standings, he’s never won but logged two top-5 and 15 top-10 finishes while earning a reputation for taking care of equipment. But now, at age 52 his own career is running out of options, forcing him into start-and-park rides in order to stay involved in the sport. So while his career starts winding down, he is actively helping his son Tyler attempt to establish himself in the upper echelons of NASCAR racing. Frontstretch had the chance to sit down with Mark before the Kroger 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and get the latest on the Green family’s future, start-and-parking and more.
Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com: Who are you driving for this weekend?
Mark Green: I’m driving for Jay Robinson. I’ve driven for him the last couple of years doing a start-and-park deal. I tried to hang it up this year but he coaxed me back. I didn’t want to come back but it pays too good.
Neff: When you’re doing a start-and-park deal, what determines how long you’ll run?
Green: It just takes so much money to run in the series these days, so we do some start-and-park deals so that he can run some races to completion. The amount of time we run is determined by the team. Depending on what they want, sometimes we’ll run a full fuel run, sometimes a tire run – it just depends on what the team wants.
Neff: What do you think is different about running today compared to when you started?
Green: Drivers don’t earn their way up to the top series anymore and the sport suffers for it. Kids rent rides or their folks have lots of money and they don’t learn how to work on cars or respect what it takes to bring a car to the track. When the race gets going, they’ll just run over people to pass them. They don’t learn how to race. They don’t understand how to set people up and work them over to make a clean pass. They show up with their helmet bag, climb in the car and crash their way to the front and then head home while the guys who put the car together have to get it ready for them to run again the next week. Not only do the drivers not respect their fellow competitors, they also don’t respect the sport. It is a shame because the sport isn’t what it used to be.
Neff: How are things going with Tyler trying to move up?
Green: He’s trying to move up but, just like running these Nationwide deals, it takes a lot of money to compete in Late Models. You can spend thousands of dollars trying to race one of those things and you don’t make a whole lot of money. Unfortunately for Tyler his dad isn’t rich so he’s having to wait until he finds someone to pay the bills. In the meantime he’s running Legends and doing a good job. He won the title at Charlotte last year.
When the green flag flew at Indy Green was able to complete 16 laps before the team called him in for the night. Fortunately for Green he finished ahead of seven other drivers which added a little bit more to the prize money he pocketed for owner Jay Robinson. Robinson’s other entry, Derrike Cope, was able to run the entire race, the first time Cope ever completed an event at the track. Green went on to make the race the following week at Iowa, making it three qualifications in a row for Green and his Jay Robinson ride.
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What’s pathetic is that nas$car encourages this type of “racing”, mostly to fill the field. And I don’t blame the “racers” for taking the money. Real racing doesn’t exist anymore. I do like the road courses because they promote some action, which is sadly lacking in this age of boring, follow the leader racing.
This is a good read, thank you for doing it. Haven’t heard too much from Mark this year, I’m glad he finally got some media time. I’d really like to see more of these articles from the driver’s in this position. Morgan Shepherd, Derrike Cope, Joe Nemechek, Mike Harmon… etc… thanks again!
Nice piece. I agree with Mark’s point about drivers not having to move up the system to get to Cup. Regan Smith & Brad Keselowski seem to be the only drivers I can think of that earned their way through the system the past few years.
I second Nick’s request for more interviews like this.
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