Jeff “I’m Lucky I Survived The Season” Green
2006 Ride: No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet
2006 Owner: Gene Haas
2006 Crew Chief: “Bootie” Barker (Feb.-Oct.)/Harold Holly (Oct.-Nov., will return in 2007)
Stats: 36 races, zero wins, zero top fives, two top 10s, 28th in points.
High Point: After a season of struggles, owner Gene Haas made a change in October and reunited Green with crew chief Harold Holly. The two won the Busch Series championship together in 2000, and it didn’t take long for them to click again; Green was eighth in Martinsville and scored three top-20 finishes in the first four races after Holly rejoined the team.
Low Point: While some were trying to make the Chase, Green couldn’t even finish a race. A scuffle with another driver after a wreck at Richmond in the fall led to Green being parked by NASCAR; one week later, he wrecked again in New Hampshire on the first lap, giving him back-to-back finishes outside the top 40 for the only time all season.
Summary: Driving for a single-car team, there was a limit to how successful Green could be on the Nextel Cup tour this year… but he certainly had his moments with an organization that had taken its share of lumps heading into 2006. The first three years of Haas CNC’s existence had seen it plow through over half-a-dozen drivers; Green’s ability to keep the car off the wall, combined with his late-season boost in performance, got that driver merry-go-round to stop dead in its tracks. The highest finishing wheelman from a single-car team in the point standings, Green quietly steered his organization towards respectability after several years of being anything but.
2007 Outlook: With driver Johnny Sauter and his No. 00 (now No. 70) team moving up from the Busch Series, Haas CNC becomes a two-car operation, a change that should benefit Green immediately with additional resources and support. Don’t underestimate the Green/Holly driver/crew chief combo; these two have won a championship before, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them be successful again, this time on the Nextel Cup level. Then again, with all the new teams heading into the sport next year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see middling organizations like this group take a step back, either. The jury’s definitely out on this one; the only thing anyone knows for sure is this is clearly a make-or-break season for the 44-year-old Green.