Jon Wood, the third generation member of the Wood Brothers Racing family and son of Eddie Wood, is attempting to qualify for his first race at historic Daytona International Speedway, a track at which his family has visited Victory Lane a total of...
Jon Wood, the third generation member of the Wood Brothers Racing family and son of Eddie Wood, is attempting to qualify for his first race at historic Daytona International Speedway, a track at which his family has visited Victory Lane a total of 12 times, the most of any team in NASCAR history. Wood will once again pilot the No. 50 Roush Racing entry for 2002, and following an announcement yesterday, he will be teamed with the U.S. Navy for the start of the season.
JON WOOD-50-U.S. Navy Racing Ford F-150
YOU TURNED IN THE FASTEST NON-DRAFTING TIME DURING THE OPEN TEST IN JANUARY. HOW MUCH WORK HAVE YOU DONE TO THE TRUCK SINCE THEN? "We feel that we are a little better than we were three weeks ago, but I don't think the Dodges were showing all of their cards. We are the best in our class right now and I think that's all we can ask for. I still think the Dodges have a little something extra, but if we can qualify in the top 10, that will give us a good starting position in the race. After that, it's just about being in the right spot at the right time. After the test, these guys took the truck back to Michigan and kept working on the body, messaging each and every inch of it. We were pretty good, so we didn't have to cut it apart and start over, but like I said, I don't think everyone showed their hands, so we felt we still needed to make some improvements. The guys didn't tell me exactly what they did; my job is to drive the truck, give them feedback and let them makes the changes."
YOU ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY THAT YOUR TRUCK WOULD BEAR THE U.S. NAVY EMBLEM FOR THE START OF THE SEASON. DOES THAT TAKE ANY OF THE PRESSURE OFF OF YOU? "That helps out a ton. Having the U.S. Navy on board to start the season is great. I'm hoping that we can have a good showing here, and we're really focusing on the first five races to show them the potential of this team. We have about a month break between our first and second races, so you almost have to sell yourself off of your performance here to a potential sponsor. That's a lot of pressure and it's easy to get caught up in somebody else's mess here and that could ruin your shot at getting a sponsor. Now we don't have to worry about that and we can focus on our gameplan instead of what everybody else is doing."
AT LEAST FOR THE FIRST RACE THIS YEAR, YOU HAVE ANOTHER NEW TEAMMATE IN TIM FEDEWA. HOW HAS HE BEEN AS A TEAMMATE? "I think that having Tim drive the truck here is going to be a good endeavor. He's definitely a top-notch driver and it will be good to have him as teammate on the track. You don't want to be hung out to dry here, and with him in the 99 truck, I know he will help us as much as he can during the race, and, likewise, we'll do the same. They don't have a sponsor over there yet, so I don't know how long this is going to last, but I'm trying to learn everything I can from him right now. That's still down the road, so we'll have to see what happens, but he's been a big help so far. Just from the test session here in January, I know he could be a real asset to this organization."
YOU WERE TEAMED WITH KYLE BUSCH LAST SEASON. WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH A VETERAN RATHER THAN A ROOKIE? "It's a totally different situation from last year. It's a lot different to have a rookie teammate, but I was able to work with Greg Biffle a few times last year, and as you need to try to absorb as much as you can while they're around. I was a rookie last year and it makes it tough when you have a rookie teammate because you're both trying to learn the same things at the same time. Tim has experienced some things here that I just haven't had a chance to do yet. I think it helps a ton when you have somebody like Tim, who's more of a coach."
HOW MUCH DRAFTING HAVE YOU DONE SO FAR? "Not much. I was able to draft with Tim when we were here in January, but all of that will come in time. I think we'll do some drafting tomorrow and Wednesday, but I've been to Texas and California, so I'm not too worried about that. I saw Kurt Busch do some amazing things here in his first truck race, so I feel that as long as we get the truck set up right, we'll be fine."
THE TRUCKS TOPPED 185 MPH IN THE SECOND PRACTICE SESSION TODAY, POSTING TIMES CLOSE TO THOSE OF THE WINSTON CUP TEAMS. "I think the Craftsman Truck drivers can handle that. There has been a lot of talk about how we're faster than the Cup cars, but once you break 180 mph, I don't think there's much of a difference between 180 and 185. You know you're going fast, but you don't know how fast you are until you hear the times radioed to you in the truck."
THIS IS YOUR FIRST RACE AT DAYTONA, BUT YOUR FAMILY HAS BEEN A PART OF RACING HERE FOR A LONG TIME. HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN A DREAM FOR YOU TO RACE HERE? "This is big. I still want to start in the Daytona 500 some day, but I've actually raced here as a kid. Growing up, we used to race our Big Wheels around a makeshift track in the motorhome area. I started driving here with something with three wheels and now I'm driving something with 750 horsepower; that's a long way in a short amount of time. The horsepower is that Big Wheel was only two legs and I didn't have a lot of pedal power back then."