The last time Woods Brothers Racing was in Texas it was to debut then-19-year-old Trevor Bayne who was making his first start in the Sprint Cup series. Bayne piloted the iconic No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford to a 17th finish that day, a great accomplishment at the time for the driver and the team. A lot has changed since that day last fall as Eddie and Len Wood as well as crew chief Donnie Wingo explain.
HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED FOR THE WOOD BROTHERS SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU RACED IN TEXAS?
EDDIE WOOD: “Last time we were in Texas we came here hoping to make the race and we did. Now we come back and are in the top-35 and don’t have to qualify so we are able to concentrate on the race which is a big difference. Having won the 500 is obviously a huge difference. That is more of a confidence builder throughout the team and Trevor and everybody. Other than that it is just back to Texas.”
LEN WOOD: “Other than winning the Daytona 500 (laughter). I think that was a good starting point for us with Trevor here last year. We didn’t know him and he didn’t know us and that race went very well. Things developed from there. We had two tests at Daytona one in December and one in January and they went very well too. It all started to come together and then at Daytona we hit the jackpot, but it all started right here last fall.”
DONNIE WINGO: “For me I think the more races we get I think the better it our relationship has gotten. Getting the feedback from him and what he wants in the car and how he relays those messages back to us is key. If we can keep gaining on that we will be just fine. That is the biggest way things have changed for me and Trevor since the last time we were here, just our familiarity with each other.”
WHEN YOU LEFT HERE IN THE FALL, DID YOU HAVE A SENSE THAT MAYBE THERE WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT TREVOR?
EDDIE WOOD: “Yeah but when we left here we didn’t have any idea he was going to be our driver this year. We didn’t know how that was going to turn out. I knew there was something special about him though. I knew that the first day I ever met him. There still is something special about him. We will come out of here and get back to 1.5-mile stuff next week where we are usually at our best. We are glad to get started here this week in a little while.”
The expectations here at Texas are to do the best we can and not worry about it because this is hard.
ARE EXPECTATIONS UNFAIR FOR TREVOR AND WOOD BROTHERS RACING NOW AFTER DAYTONA?
EDDIE WOOD: “The expectations here at Texas are to do the best we can and not worry about it because this is hard. This is a really hard weekend for him to be jumping between the Nationwide and Cup cars. Yeah, they are kind of similar cars but there is a huge difference in horse power and they don’t run bump-stops and we do. It is hard enough to keep the Cup cars driving good from practice to practice, much less switching from one vehicle to another. That is hard on him and hard for him to get in his mind what he wants from both race cars. He is doing a good job with it though and he will be fine. This is the car from Vegas which ran really well there and all the Ford’s seem to run well on mile-and-a-half tracks and our car should be no different. We dyno’d it on Monday and it has a really good engine. The engineering side of it is really on its game and I think we will be okay.”
DONNIE WINGO: “He has struggled a little jumping between the two cars and he will be the first to admit that. They drive a good bit different and the speed is different. The horsepower is down in the Nationwide cars versus the Cup cars. That is something I think he will get better at as we go.” “I think you go through this in terms of expectations. If you look at Jeff Gordon and other guys that came into this sport at a young age like Trevor has. He has a lot to learn and he will admit he has a lot to learn. We have a lot to learn together. We still have a lot to learn with what he wants to feel in the car. It is a trial and error deal and I think we are learning each week.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THING FOR YOU TO BE SUCCESSFUL THIS WEEKEND?
DONNIE WINGO: “I think the biggest things this weekend is to finish. We need to finish without any trouble. We have had some trouble in races that has been of our own making and those kind of mistakes nowadays the way the competition level is, you can’t make those mistakes because it just sets you further and further behind. We have to focus on what we can do not to shoot ourselves in the foot and once we get that I think we will be fine.”
-source: ford racing