Daytona 500 Post-Race News Conference February 20, 2011
An interview with: TREVOR BAYNE - Winning driver DONNIE WINGO - Winning crew chief EDDIE WOOD - Team owner LEN WOOD - Team owner
KERRY THARP: We're going to roll right now into our race-winning team for the 53rd annual Daytona 500. We have our crew chief, Donnie Wingo and two of the owners of the Wood Brothers, Eddie and Leonard Wood. Congratulations to this race team for the Daytona 500, the fifth time that it's been in Victory Lane here at Daytona.
I'm going to start with Eddie and ask your emotions and thoughts about winning the 53rd running of the Daytona 500.
EDDIE WOOD: Hey, man, it hasn't really sunk in yet. You know, we struggled so much in the past couple years just to make the Daytona 500, much less win it. It's so special. So many people that's responsible for this that, you know, it's just unbelievable we're sitting here.
Trevor Bayne did such a good job. To be 20 years old and go out there and go fender to fender with all these guys. He's got the composure and savvy of the a veteran. Now he's a Daytona 500 winner.
I'm just so happy for him. I'm happy for my dad. But, anyway, just so much happened in the last 10 laps in my head. I walked in Victory Lane with Richard Petty and Edsel Ford and my dad. I don't know how much better that can get, so...
KERRY THARP: How about you, Leonard? What does it feel like to win out there today?
LEN WOOD: We're so tickled to be here. Ford Motor Company stood behind us for 60 years now, 61 to be exact. It's just unbelievable that we could keep the team, our dad and Leonard have won in seven decades now. So proud of that. Like I said, we've been Ford all of our entire racing. To be a part of NASCAR, I mean, like I say, this is the greatest feeling that you can have.
I was part of the '76 win with Pearson. I think Eddie was here with Foyt in '72. Trevor did such a great job. What's your biggest win? Well, this is the top of the stack right now.
KERRY THARP: Donnie Wingo, how does it feel to get into Victory Lane for the Daytona 500?
DONNIE WINGO: You know, it feels really good. I've known these guys here for probably about 30 years. With everything the way it worked out last year, the opportunity for me to come over and work with this great group of people, you know, I couldn't be prouder, couldn't be happier.
The job the kid done today, I mean, you couldn't ask for anything else. There at the end, hadn't had the lead all day or get pushed. There at the end he did what he needed to do.
I'm just proud of it. I've been doing this for 30 years. To be a part of this win with these guys, we had a lot of people that helped us do this. We wrecked that car in the 150s. Basically we had to put two sides on it. A lot of guys pitched in and helped put it back together. If it wasn't for that, we wouldn't be able to keep this car running this week.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Len, Eddie or Donnie.
Q: Eddie, I talked to you last month at media tour and asked you did you think the kid could win a race this year. You said he had a maturity of a guy who had been in a car for 20 or 30 years. Could you talk about what he was like on the radio today, the communication you had with him, how the race went for you.
EDDIE WOOD: Like I said, Donnie is the gentleman that talked to him on the radio. I was just a bystander listening.
But he was very calm. Whoever he was pushing, he was relaying back to our spotter, to their spotter, how he needed it to be done. When he plugged in, if he needed to be the guy to drag the brake or come back a little more. And he knew how to go fast.
Like I told you a while back, that's what I noticed in him right off the bat. He knows how to do this. I was talking to Richard Petty earlier in the week. We were talking about how well he did in the qualifiers and how do you do that your first time at doing it. We decided that he didn't know how to do it wrong.
It's new to him. It's all brand-new. So however he did it was correct. He caught on to the way that everyone else was doing it. We were on top of the hauler during the first qualifier. He watched Matt Kenseth pull out to the right. He said, You know, I think I'm going to do that. He went right out there and did it.
He's got a tremendous awareness, I guess, in the car. The great ones are like that. I've listened to a lot of drivers on the radio. He reminds me of the great ones. He will be a great one. I told somebody the other day that I felt like he just might be the next big deal, and I think he is.
Q: Talk a little bit about, when Jack put this whole thing together, you were almost a little apprehensive. What was the turning point for you?
EDDIE WOOD: Well, the last couple years, we've been on our own. We've been doing our own engineering along with Ford Motor Company. You know, we were small. It was just getting to the point that you just couldn't quite get where you needed to get. No matter how much money you spent, no matter how much work you did, you just couldn't quite get over the hump to get to the point that you were competitive every week.
So we talked to Jack. You know, we worked out a plan for us to buy his racecars and line up with all of his engineering. It's worked out perfectly. I mean, we ran the last three races last year like that and it's just been flawless. The guys over at Roush Fenway Racing have just really treated us like family. Jack has treated Len and I like two sons. I'm really proud of that. Donnie was already a part of their world. He came over to be part of ours. It's really, really, really one Ford, just like the slogan says.
I think this is the happiest I've been. And I think I told you that last week, this is probably the happiest, the calmest that I've been in about 10 years. So it's all good.
Q: Donnie, on the media tour you told me how Trevor was the real deal. What made you so bullish on his ability that the rest of us didn't see it until today?
DONNIE WINGO: I think if you just watch the way he races. The biggest thing these new guys coming in now, a lot of them can go fast, but they still struggle racing. I think he don't put himself in a bad position.
It's just like today and even all week when, you know, we were down here testing, he didn't get to do any drafting because I wouldn't let him because I didn't want to tear the car up or anything like that. He kept wanting to draft. I just think he adapts so well to certain situations. Just the racing part of it, he catches onto the racing part and don't put his-self in a bad position. That's the sign of a good racer.
Q: For a lot of older fans of the sport, they remember the Wood Brothers for the winning and success. For the new fans, many might have only heard your stories but not seen the wins. What have been the challenges or the burden of trying to maintain that reputation the last 10, 15 years? What does a night like tonight mean in regards to that?
EDDIE WOOD: Like where we were, Len and I grew up in the Pearson era. I mean, we were part of that. We were Leonard's little helpers. We didn't do a lot, but we were there.
You know, when we kind of started downhill after all that, you begin to think you can never get back. But you keep trying. Just the fact that you want one more trophy, one more trophy, you just can't quit. And we never did quit. We just kept trying.
Like I said, so many people are responsible for us sitting here. We're just a small part of it. It's just bringing back the red and white car with the gold numbers that Pearson drove, that just seemed like it put things back to normal.
I told Richard Petty earlier in the week he needed to paint his car back to blue with orange stripes at the top and the world would be correct. I believe that. Our car is supposed to be red and white with the gold number, his is supposed to be Petty blue with an orange stripe across the top of it with a big 43. Whenever that happens, I'll be happy.
KERRY THARP: We've been joined by Trevor Bayne, today's race winner.
Trevor, how does it feel to win the Daytona 500?
TREVOR BAYNE: If I tried to put it into words, I wouldn't be doing it any justice, that's for sure.
Man, I'll tell you what, I couldn't ask to be sitting up here with any better guys than these three up here. Then Glen and Leonard who laid the foundation for these things. They gave me a rocket ship that definitely did me a lot of justice today. Anybody I hooked up with, I mean, it was headed to the front.
To get this win, it's my first win in NASCAR, period, in any of the top three series, my first Sprint Cup win, our second ever race, I mean, that's setting the standard, I'd say that for sure.
KERRY THARP: I think you're exactly right. We'll continue with questions.
Q: Trevor, you're a young kid, Donnie Wingo is old school, yet he brought Juan Pablo Montoya and McMurray to the winner's circle. How do you two relate?
TREVOR BAYNE: You see up here picking on each other. He still acts young. He can be a winner with anybody. These guys can be a winner with anybody any decade. They've been doing this for a long time. Donnie and I have been talking about how long he's been trying to do this. I never thought I'd be the guy to give somebody their first Daytona 500 win. I can't thank these guys enough. It's incredible.
Donnie, the whole crew, everybody that's out there, they spent nights and days, rotisseries, all kinds of stuff getting that racecar right. They put a lot of time into it and it paid off for them.
Q: Eddie, can you even begin to quantify how low it got for you guys, to be the standard for so long and then be in a position where you don't even run the full schedule, and now this? You have this kid who wasn't even hardly born. Last time you won, he was 10, and before that, he was 3.
TREVOR BAYNE: I bet 1991 even makes you feel a little old, doesn't it (laughter)?
Q: I was born in 1976, thank you (laughter).
EDDIE WOOD: When I speak of the low points, probably the lowest thing that happened to us, the lowest point, was missing this race in '08. You know, our family had been coming down here since the '50s. They never missed one until we missed it. I think that's probably the lowest point for me, was that day.
We came back to the racetrack and hung out because we had a lot of guests coming, things like that. It's almost like when you miss a race, especially the Daytona 500, it's like somebody died. I mean, until you go through it, you can't put it into words.
But when you walk through the garage, you run into people that you see every week, they're afraid to look at you. It's like they don't know what to say. Like you walk up to them and say, Hey, we missed a race, okay. It's tearing you apart inside, but...
Len and I dug in and we visited a lot of people. We got with our friends at Ford Motor Company, Edsel Ford introduced us to a man named Jim Farley. Mr. Farley, if you want to hear the whole story, if you got time. I was in Pocono testing, May 28th of '08. We had missed the 600. Edsel Ford was looking for a phone number for a four-star general that we were friends with. He called me.
He said, Why haven't you called me? What's been going on?
I said, Mr. Ford, I'm just ashamed to. We run so poorly. We're missing races.
He said, We got to fix that. He said, I'm going to have someone call you in the morning.
The next morning, which was a Wednesday, I think, Mr. Jim Farley from Ford Motor Company called us. He said, We got to fix your program. Why don't you come up here.
Within two hours, we had no clothes, just work clothes, what we had on, headed to the airport and left just like we were. We got to Michigan. Bought clothes to go visit Mr. Farley. Stayed up there two days to get to him. We met with him, told him our problems. It was just like talking to someone you've known for years. He said, Okay, we're going to fix this. And here we sit.
There's a lot of stuff in between that and then, but I won't go into all that. That's how we started to come back. It was that day in May.
Q: I'm wondering how this might change the immediate future. My understanding is 17 races this year. Any sense that could grow or become a full-time deal? Is this going to help you in that? Are you going to work to try to do that?
EDDIE WOOD: I'm going to let Len answer that because he keeps up with the money.
LEN WOOD: We were talking about that earlier. I think we had a pretty big payday today. We were talking about running the first five. I think Martinsville, here we come. That will be the sixth race. On to Texas from there.
Hopefully somebody watching us today will start a little interest up and maybe they'll want to join us.
Q: Trevor, think back to Tuesday night. We were talking to you, that if you won this race, you would be expected to go to New York, you would have to buy a suit. Can you fast forward from then to now.
TREVOR BAYNE: I think about all 12 of us at the dinner were joking around about that. None of us thought it was going to be possible.
I drove down here in my F 150. I was planning on driving it back. They told me somebody else is going to have to drive it back for me.
It's insane. We were kidding around. Did you bring enough clothes if you win the race?
I got this, I got two T-shirts. I thought it was a big joke.
But here we are. I guess I better call somebody up that can make a suit and get some clothes down here for me. I'm pretty picky, so I don't know if I can just call anybody.
No, this is so crazy. I don't even know what to say. I almost feel undeserving because there's guys like Donnie and all these guys out here that are racing against us that have been trying to do this for so long. But there's nobody that deserves it more than any of these guys sitting up here. I'm just glad I got to be the guy sitting behind the wheel for these guys to get this win.
Q: Trevor can only earn points in the Nationwide Series. You're talking about expanding your schedule. Assuming a sponsor does come onboard, what happens if you get to maybe run a full season and Trevor continues to do well and, oh, by the way, you can't make the Chase or run for a championship? How does that affect the situation?
TREVOR BAYNE: I think the cars still get points if I'm not mistaken. The car will still be in the running for all of that. I don't know how the Chase works, driver or car or what. We'll be the guys that say we should have won the championship if that's what it coming down to. I wish I could talk to Mike Helton into changing the box if I can.
I think our plan is to still run the full Nationwide deal. It's kind of crazy with the only thing on the car was Ford Racing. They picked up this race because we had nothing on it. This team only has 17 races. Maybe both of them will get a boost. We can keep doing this deal and that deal. Whatever plays out, that's what was supposed to happen. We'll just keep running with it.
Q: You're 20 years old. You're leading the Daytona 500 with a green-white-checkered flag coming. You have Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, all veterans who have never won a Daytona 500 behind you, you know they're going to do everything possible. What are you thinking? Are you shaking in your shoes?
TREVOR BAYNE: Now that you put it that way, I'm a little bit worried that one of them is going to come after me tonight. I'm going to have to sleep with one eye open. That's why I said I felt a little undeserving. But these guys definitely deserve it. They can all tell you on the radio, if you listen to that last restart, I'm leading, and I'm saying, Who can I push? Who can I let in front of me to push across this thing because our car was so fast as a pusher.
I was going to brake, let Tony Stewart get down. All of a sudden here comes the 47 car pushing away. Bobby Labonte, he did an awesome job. That was the best restart we had all weekend. We struggled not getting hooked up. We dropped back in the duels, the Nationwide race with Ricky Stenhouse. Today our restarts would drop us back to the back. Come up to the front, we're leading, kind of cool to say when we're were leading at the start of the green-white-checkered. And then I told somebody earlier, I said I got to the white flag, and I'm Like, At least we can say I lead at the white flag.
We get to turn four and we were still leading the band. Man, somebody's going to pass us, you know, what's going to happen here. Then nobody ever did.
So, you know, wow, really.
Q: Were you racing defensively or were you all along thinking someone was going to come along?
TREVOR BAYNE: Honestly, it seems a little bit too easy there at the end. I expected another pack to come up just like they had the whole time. The second pack seemed to have the benefit, the big push. That was the first time I worked with Bobby Labonte the whole race. Maybe we should have hooked up earlier. We were pushing David Ragan. I thought that was going to be the deal. Keep him from getting wrecked. That's why I liked being the pusher all day. I didn't want to be in a situation with somebody behind us and possibly turn us.
The last straightaway I raced defensively. I saw Carl Edwards coming up. I pulled down to get a push from him and it worked out perfect.
Q: Trevor, this kind of goes back to the question you were just asked. A lot of people mentioned the fact you spent a lot of time working with Jeff Gordon in the duels. Why do you think drivers like Jeff Gordon and others today felt that they could work with you throughout this race?
TREVOR BAYNE: I have no idea other than the fact that we had a fast racecar and everybody wants to be hooked up to a fast racecar. When we qualified third, it kind of sparked everything. They were like, Wow, maybe we need that 21 car pushing us.
I don't want to say it's anything I did any different than any other rookie. We were just fast. I can't thank Jeff and those guys enough to put the trust in me. Even though I'm 20, I've been doing it since I was 5. Really none of us had any experience doing this. I had a bit of an advantage not having to relearn it all.
I got behind them, was comfortable pushing, kept it cool. That Ford held up all day. At one point in the race, I dropped a little water pressure. They said because it cooled down. That Ford engine kept running strong as a pusher. All those guys that helped me along the way today, their trust in me showed other people could trust me. Jeff Gordon taking that first step showed everybody that, hey, they could work with me and we're here.
Q: You were responsible for getting this entire room to explode in applause.
TREVOR BAYNE: No way. Thank you, guys.
Q: Which probably only happened a handful of times in this room. That said, most of us were cheering because of that move right there at the end. You're being modest about it. The move right in front of Carl Edwards at the end, that's not the kind of move that has two Sprint Cup races under his belt makes. Where did that come from?
TREVOR BAYNE: I'm here to win just like they are. I'm just glad we didn't get turned on that deal. Might have been like the '76 race and we might have been sideways crossing the finish line torn up, maybe first.
No, like I said, Bobby Labonte was an awesome pusher. I pulled down, it was like perfect times. God definitely had a plan for that. I pulled down, I mean, it just hooked up perfect. Like Carl said, I couldn't get to you. I got to you and you just pulled back away.
That y'all for cheering for me, that's really cool. I think it's awesome, too, that these guys were cheering for me at Texas. They took that first step, said, Hey, we're going to continue doing this. After Texas, they could have said, No more, you figure out what else you're going to do. We saw the potential, oldest team, youngest driver. It's so cool just to be sitting in here.
Q: Trevor, how much of today's victory do you think was a reward for your sacrifice and humility that you showed? You proved you were willing to be helpful for another guy win.
TREVOR BAYNE: That's definitely not how we planned it. I planned on winning the whole time, don't get me wrong. But I planned on pushing somebody until that last lap.
The whole race is going on. I'm just formulating, when is going to be the best time to make a move if there's no other groups pushing? But I definitely think that humility is something to hang onto for everybody, all the young kids that are doing their sports or whatever, just stay grounded. Remember that if it wasn't for somebody else helping you, you wouldn't be sitting where you are.
I've had so many people help me along the way that kept me grounded, from my family getting me started, driving for Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, to driving for MWR and Gary Bechtel, Jack Roush, to these guys. Somebody has helped you get there. You didn't do it on your own. When you think about it that way, it will keep you humble. I think those kind of people will always be rewarded for it.
Q: Back when you were testing at New Smyrna about a year ago, did you play this in your mind, I'm on the last lap of the Daytona 500?
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, when we met the first time, I started thinking about it. I'm just kidding (laughter).
No, I honestly haven't thought about this win. I mean, I didn't expect it. Like they said, you were at the dinner the other night when we were joking around about it, I never expected to be sitting here. I still don't think it's real.
Sorry if I'm bouncing around on questions and answers. Figure I can do whatever I want to since it's just a dream anyways (laughter).
Q: Len and Eddie, you have said that Donnie was on the radio doing all the talking. What were you two guys doing on the pit box? What was it like for you when it came down to the green-white-checkered?
LEN WOOD: For me, it was trying to help Donnie with the fuel mileage. With all the yellows, then we were working on trying to save fuel on each yellow, planning on the green-white-checkereds. I think at the end we could have run to about 215. But a lot of that was due to Trevor not knocking it out of gear, but using long gears, that's the term.
We're just tickled to be here. I don't know what else to say.
Q: Trevor, how did you celebrate your birthday? Are you prepared for the celebrity that's about to come your way?
TREVOR BAYNE: I don't know if I'm prepared for that. But to answer your question, we had a birthday dinner actually Friday night before the Nationwide race with my whole crew from Nationwide, my Cup guys. Everybody was there together at a seafood the restaurant. A lot of my friends from home, mom and dad. We went out and had dinner.
Last night on my actual birthday, we went to bed, went to the motorhome and went to slept. Before that, we rode around in the golf cart. A couple of my buddies got in a wheelbarrow race and they won, too. That's what inspired me to win the race.
It was fun going around last night to see the fans that support us and the good time they have at these races. This is cool. This will be the best birthday celebration I ever had tonight.
Q: Trevor, talk to us about what happened to David Ragan. Did you see what happened? Are you thinking, This just happened and now all of a sudden I'm in the lead?
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, I wanted to keep David up there. I was trying to take his side on the radio because that was our buddy, our Ford teammate that we could push. I planned on being the pusher.
That rule is tough. If you're the leader, you want to be able to go wherever you want as long as you go in that box. I can see where NASCAR is coming on that. The lane change was made. Do I agree with it? I don't know what to say because we're sitting here in Victory Lane. I'll take a win any way I can get it.
But I hate that for David and them. Might not have worked out. Neither one of us might have ended up in Victory Lane had he not gotten black flagged. I have to thank them for getting us up there. Because if it wasn't for them, we never would have been in that situation to take the lead after that because they worked with us to get back to the front pushing us together.
Q: Trevor, do you realize you join A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, Tiny Lund, and David Pearson as Daytona 500 winners for the Wood Brothers?
TREVOR BAYNE: That's a cool list. It's incredible to be a part of this group, it really is. When was the last 500 for you guys?
EDDIE WOOD: 1976.
TREVOR BAYNE: That was the last one, 13 years before I was born.
But, no, I mean, it's an incredible list. All the 500 winners, to be added to that list, period, is crazy, especially at our first attempt. That's just insane. It sets the bar for this team. We don't expect to win them all, but we know we can now, that's for sure.
Q: Trevor, can you go back to when this deal first came about when you were first told that you would get this ride, kind of what your life has been like since that day, whenever it was?
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, you know, I don't really know how the Texas deal came together. These guys could tell you more on what was happening. I know Donnie Wingo was making a transition over to them from Roush. I just signed up with Roush. We wanted to get approval that year so we could run for the 500. If I didn't run Texas, we didn't know if I would be able to run here.
The Wood Brothers were good enough to let me drive their car at Texas. We were really successful. We had an awesome day together. These guys, they feel like family. I think it's just because they're here to race. They're not here for any other motives except win races and be a part of it. We clicked.
Donnie and I, the first time we started talking, we hit it off, seemed like we'd work really well together. That happened at Texas.
The off-season came along and I had a decision to make between Nationwide and Cup, if I wanted to run a more limited schedule in Cup and be a guaranteed full-time Nationwide driver or if I wanted to take half and half. That's kind of what I did.
I couldn't tell you enough that's the best decision I've ever made, was to stay with these guys. I thank them so much for standing behind me after Texas saying, We want to continue working with you, keep you in our car. For them to do that, that's awesome. They've never had rookie stripes on their car ever before this.
I know it messed with the paint scheme for you guys a little bit, but I'm glad we did it.
Q: Donnie, what were you talking with Trevor about just before that last green-white-checkered, the last two laps? I'm curious about how many tobacco plugs you might have swallowed at the end of the race?
DONNIE WINGO: I was pretty good on that. I didn't get sick anyway (laughter).
At the last minute, he come on. He said, What do I do now? Which way do I go?
I said, The best thing to do, we have to line up with whoever is behind us, hopefully we can get enough push and they can lock up and be out in front of all these guys.
That's what happened. We were fortunate to have Bobby Labonte and he gave us the push to get out there, made the move to block Carl, gave us another push to get the victory.
Q: You have owners who grew up during the Pearson years. But this is probably the biggest Daytona 500 upset. Trevor, do you have any idea who Tiny Lund was?
TREVOR BAYNE: Why do you have to put me on the spot like this? I can't say that I've watched the races. I really had study the history of the Wood Brothers. They took me through the shop on one of the first days showed me the pictures on the wall. I haven't been to the museum yet. Show me the Indianapolis win with Glen and Leonard pitting. I'm sure one of them pictures was him in there.
They have cool ones from the convertibles all the way through. I got a little history lesson, but I definitely didn't get to watch any of those races.
Q: Trevor, what was the biggest thing that has happened in your life before today? What was the biggest thing that ever happened to you in racing before today?
TREVOR BAYNE: Man, I mean, the biggest thing I've ever done and ever could do is just finding Christ. That's the biggest thing. That's the reason I'm here. That's my whole platform. He's put me here for this reason. I didn't even lose it for the 500 win, but that almost made me lose it there. If it wasn't for that, there is no way I'd be sitting here. That gives us purpose.
These are great things, but they go away with time. That's something that can never go away.
Q: Trevor, before you walked into the room, your teammates were calling you the next biggest thing in NASCAR. Do you think you are the next big thing in NASCAR? I'm guessing they're probably going to have to give you some sparkling grape juice to celebrate?
TREVOR BAYNE: That's funny. The first race I ever run in a stock car when they gave me the sparkling cider, they had to substitute it out. I couldn't figure out how to get the cork out. All the guys were ducking, trying to dodge it if it ever shot off.
I don't know if I'm the next big thing. I hope so. I hope we can prove that. I definitely don't want it to be handed to us easy. I want to earn it. I think we're doing it. Winning race, running up front, it's not something fake, it's real. These guys have given me the equipment to shine and hopefully we can keep going with it.
Q: I understand that you met David Pearson for the first time this week. I'm curious as to whether you actually had any time to sit down and speak with him and if he gave you any advice or said anything that stuck in your mind.
TREVOR BAYNE: You know, the first thing he said is, Be careful. That was the mindset that I had to have at the beginning. I didn't forget that or take it lightly. We had to survive that whole race. All the crashing going on, we had to be there at the end to have a chance at that.
The next thing he said, I hope you can do what we did in the 21. We did that, too. Hopefully he can give us more advice and we can keep following it up.
David Pearson, he's the man. It's so cool to be following in his footsteps in this car. Actually one of his friends that was with him, been hanging around and racing with him for a long time, knew my grandfather when he used to race. He raced around South Carolina just kind of locally. So that was really cool to hear that those guys raced with my grandfather. That was really neat.
Q: Trevor, obviously you're young. A lot of us were here 10 years ago, it was an honor today for Dale Earnhardt's death. You were still nine years old at the time. What do you remember about that as a nine-year-old?
TREVOR BAYNE: I remember everything about it actually. I was at my grandparents' house watching the race when the accident happened. We lived about five miles away from my grandparents. As soon as the race was over I left my grandparents and went to our house. That's when the announcement was made.
I mean, our whole family, you know the impact it had on everybody, all teary eyed. I was a nine-year-old teary eyed. I knew the significance that Dale Earnhardt had on our sport, what an amazing man he was.
It's crazy that we're sitting here 10 years later. It's gone by fast. I remember everything about that. It's crazy. I was racing go-karts then. I can't thank Dale enough for everything he did, laying the foundation for the safety, for the aggressiveness, for everything that he did for our sport, and just being a real person.
I think we might get away from that sometimes, but that's something that Dale always did, he was always Dale. That's something you can take from people like that, is just being yourself.
It's crazy to be sitting here. I feel honored and once again undeserving to be here 10 years after that for the anniversary.
Q: You talked about your 60-year relationship with the Ford Motor Company. Knowing what they've been through and the great comeback they're making, what does it mean for you to have Mr. Farley's faith in you?
EDDIE WOOD: I mean, Ford Motor Company really did a phenomenal job in their recovery. They didn't borrow any money. I'm really proud of them for not having to do that. They were prepared. They knew what to do. They saw the crisis coming and got ready for it. They have great leadership up there with Mr. Farley and Mark Fields and Alan Mulally.
They knew what to do. We're so proud to be a part of those guys. We raced Ford Motor Company products, our dad and everybody did, from 1950 to now. That's one of the most important things to us and our family, is Ford Motor Company.
The big thing was we were the guys that won the 600th win. I think Richard Petty won the 100th win. I was talking to him about that a little while ago. They were looking for the 600th win. For us to be the guys that gave it to them with, you know, Trevor at the wheel is just a storybook ending for it. I'm just so proud to be a part of their world. They mean the world to us.
Q: Donnie, this is really about Trevor. About five years ago I interviewed him when he was 15 years old. After the third question I had to stop and ask, How old are you? I was so amazed. Did you have that kind of feeling when you started working with him?
DONNIE WINGO: Yeah, kind of. But I have been fortunate to work with a lot of good rookies over the years, a lot of young drivers. Like I said before, the one thing I noticed in him that stands out above some of the other ones is his knack for racing.
A lot of these young guys can go fast, but when they get in the race, they don't know which way to go. I think it's the way he races around the other guys, the respect he gets from the other guys. Like he said, being able to draft with Jeff and a lot of the veterans, I think that instills a lot of faith in him and what makes him stand above some of the other guys.
Q: Trevor, last year the winner brought home $1.5 million. What might be the first thing you might buy?
TREVOR BAYNE: I don't know if I will splurge. I'm definitely not putting it up for retirement. I'm going to stay around for a while.
Hopefully like he was talking about, hopefully this money will get us some more races. There's a lot of foundations and ministries that need support. MRO being one of them, back-to-back ministries in Mexico with Lonnie Clouse. There's a lot of good organizations that need some help. We're definitely going to help them out as much as we can there.
I don't know what I'm going to buy. I like those Ford Raptors. Maybe I can talk the Ford guys into giving me one of them, not having to buy it. I don't know. We'll see what we can do here.
Q: Len, you said now it's on to Martinsville. Trevor, if they can put more races together, you will race the car? Can you change your mind and not race for Nationwide points?
TREVOR BAYNE: I don't really know. I didn't expect to have this situation come up, honestly. I haven't talked to them about it. I don't know what will happen at Roush Fenway.
You know what's funny, Jack joked around with us about it this morning. Jack said, You know, if you win this thing or do good in it, better than you did in the Nationwide car, one of us is going to be mad if you switch points. Leonard is going to be mad if I keep you in Nationwide, I'm going to be mad at you if you go run for Cup. They were kidding around about it. It's funny to be in that situation now.
I don't know if it's an option. Either way, hopefully we can contend for a championship in whatever series. I think our Nationwide program is stout this year. I thought we had a chance to win that race yesterday. I messed up on the restarts with the shift. Couldn't get out of fourth.
We have two great race teams. I'm proud to be a part of these two great organizations, with the Wood Brothers and Fenway, and with Ford there, the connecting piece, that's awesome.
Q: Eddie and Len, I've heard a lot of stories about the Wood Brothers operation when it was located in Stuart. I want to know if this is true. The story I heard is part of your shop was a tree that was in your yard and you would pull the cars under a tree and work on the cars like that?
EDDIE WOOD: The truth of that, when they started, our grandfather, Jay Walter Wood, my dad Glen, and Leonard went and bought I think it was a '40 Ford. And they came to the home place, which is still in Stuart, Virginia, and they told the grandfather they were going to race. The first thing he said was, Don't unload that mess here.
But they did anyway, of course.
There was a beech tree. Now it's like a 150-year-old beech tree. The engine they pulled out of that car, they just threw a chain over the lowest limb, and that was what they pulled it out with.
Our racing really started under a beech tree. The beech tree, by the way, is still there. We had some seeds. I don't know if everybody got one of those. We still got some in a little box. I'll get you some, people that want one, I'll run you down some. My sister made a bunch of them. But it is an actual seed from that tree.
Q: You said you were pushing through most of the day. Was temperature a problem? Did you have to do as many swaps as the other guys?
TREVOR BAYNE: I was never the leader until I think the last lap there. We pushed the whole time. Ford did a really good job of making sure this engine would be durable. I think we were probably even hotter than some of the other cars at times because we pushed so long, but the engine held up. We saw temperatures up to 270 degrees.
With the pop-off deal that NASCAR put on us, I had to be careful not to lose all our water. I needed to keep it around 260 is about where I ran the whole time. That's a lot warmer than you would normally see them. Our car did really good at staying in line. When I pulled out for that little bit, it would cool down pretty fast.
Q: Trevor, one of the other drivers talking on their radio during one of the cautions said they thought maybe you were braking a little bit. Were you having some sort of issue with your car late in the race? On the radio afterwards, you were like, I don't know how to get to Victory Lane. Talk about what was going through your head.
TREVOR BAYNE: Well, as a pusher, I actually had to do a lot of braking there at times, especially when we would come up on big packs, you could see the car in front of you check up. There were times where David Ragan and I were half throttle just to keep from running over people when we would get those big gusts.
I think that's what important here. Both cars had a big responsible. The front one had to guide the train, make sure you stayed hooked up at all times, especially when people were packing air on spoilers. The back guy was to make sure you didn't crash. That was the whole thing I had to do all day, was make sure I didn't crash somebody, keep the thing cool, push him through there. There were times I had to check up.
Getting to Victory Lane, that was funny. Thanks for throwing that out there to everybody. I had to throw it in reverse, back it up. The jack man, Hootie, I think he's on the 56 now, I was like, How do I get to Victory Lane? I was still in the grass. He pointed me in the right direction. I'm glad we made it all right.
Q: Trevor, being from the Knoxville area, you notice how big the University of Tennessee is. You've been asked about your celebrity status. Would you be even bigger than Phillip Fulmer or Pat Summitt at UT?
TREVOR BAYNE: I don't know, man. That's tough to overcome right there. We had Peyton Manning. I think everybody in Knoxville is a Colts fans. Kenny Chesney actually went to the same school I went to. Maybe I can one up him.
There's been a lot of great things come out of Knoxville. I'm always happy to go back. I go back once every couple weeks. These guys go back to Virginia. I think that's what's cool, we try to remember where we came from. I got a lot of my friends here from Knoxville, a lot of my family. I can't wait to get back and see everybody there.
Q: Eddie, I know Leonard has been around off and on and your dad not so much lately with some health issues. They were both with you today in Victory Lane. Speak to what today means to them.
EDDIE WOOD: Yeah, I mean, to them, I think today, if they were in here, they would tell you today is probably the biggest win of their life. The really cool thing that happened when the race was over, I was watching Trevor do burn-outs a little bit, then I saw Richard Petty walk up. He said, Where is your dad?
I said, Right over here.
We went and found my dad. Richard Petty took him into Victory Lane. That was pretty awesome right there. I mean, you had to have been there to see it to know what I'm talking about.
Like I said, there's so many people involved in this, it's just incredible. But I think they've been rooting for us to get going, to get back. Like I say, we went so far down. To come back...
I was going to add to what I said a while ago, the man responsible was Edsel Ford. He was on our box all day. He never left our side. He went to Victory Lane with us. That just said it all right there. I mean, that's Henry Ford's great grandson. I mean, I get back to the Ford thing. But that's what it's all about with us. And his three sons was there.
That part of it, everything that happened today outside the race, just the people that were around us, supporting us, they were just like family. I'm just so proud of that. For Edsel to be a part of it, my dad, for Leonard to be a part of it, to be here, you couldn't write a script. It's just the best thing that's ever happened to us.
Q: You told Darrell Waltrip there was a prayer. Was that during the pace laps? Your willingness to defer to everybody else this week, does that spring from your religious convictions?
TREVOR BAYNE: We did it right before the race started. Normally I call the guys over to the car. I just wanted everybody to be a part of it.
Definitely I want to model myself after Jesus. He was just the man. You know, I mean, I want to follow in His footsteps, just model myself after everything that He did, which is impossible. It was so cool to have a team that supported that.
To have these guys around, the crew chief, Donnie was part of it. We did it yesterday before the Nationwide race. Not to forget that, because that is bigger than anything we have going on here. He's blessed us, for sure.
Q: As young as you are, can you remember what you were doing during the running of the Daytona 500?
TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah. I was down here watching it. Ever since I signed with DEI, I started coming down here and watching them, just learning and taking it in, trying to be a part of the action. I'd run to Victory Lane, congratulate whatever driver it was just to see what it was like to be there. Now we finally get to have our own Victory Lane celebration.
It's crazy. It's happened so fast. Two years ago, I didn't have a ride. I set out six months. Raced one Hooter's Pro Cup race for my dad's team. He always brought me up through the Allison Legacy Series, go-kart, Hooter's, then I drove for him, then DEI. At the end of my season when I was 17, we lost our funding at DEI. That was the frenzy year.
I set out for six months and waited on something to happen. This is two years ago. I met a lady by the name of Danielle Randall-Bauer, who introduced me to Gary Bechtel and his son, who went with me to MWR, and they formed that partnership, I started riding for them. That's what gave me my spark into NASCAR, to show everybody we can do it.
Last year when we made the transition to Roush Fenway, Jack was quick to pick up on us, and the Wood Brothers.
Me sitting here is because a lot of people that have believed in me. I kind of know what I'm doing sometimes, so that's helped. But definitely just having support behind me all the time.
You know, at that point two years ago, I didn't know what I would be doing. It's happened so fast, like I was saying. I never ran late models. I ran like 10 Legends races, and one Bandolero race, but I ran Legacy cars, Hooter Pro Cup, Camping World, straight to Nationwide. So I think it's just been really cool to see how fast it's progressed.
Q: When we were talking this morning, you didn't have your plan set. You talked to the 6 crew. At what point did it all come together and you were thinking, If I have to switch up with the 6 to win this thing, then you were out there by yourself?
TREVOR BAYNE: Really what I thought was going to happen is I was finishing second or third or fourth or whatever, because I figured it would come down to a battle between two groups, kind of like we've seen. I didn't want to break off from him if there was another group coming because I wanted to see a Ford win, obviously. Him being a Roush Fenway driver, I'd like to push him off instead of breaking off and both of us losing.
Obviously, if we broke away, 15, 20 car lengths coming down the frontstretch, I would have tried something. So that was kind of my plan all along. I don't know how it worked out that we were the lead car, but it did.
KERRY THARP: Trevor, Eddie, Len, congratulations. What a story today. Best of luck in 2011.
TREVOR BAYNE: Thank you, guys.
EDDIE WOOD: Thank you.
LEN WOOD: Thank you.