Roush Racing announced today plans of adding Jon Wood to its driver lineup in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Wood will pilot the No. 50 truck in Memphis next week and further decisions about Roush's drivers will be announced on a race-by-race...
Roush Racing announced today plans of adding Jon Wood to its driver lineup in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Wood will pilot the No. 50 truck in Memphis next week and further decisions about Roush's drivers will be announced on a race-by-race basis. Jon, his father Eddie and Max Jones spoke about this opportunity and the goals of the weekend.
JON WOOD--50-Eldon Ford F-150 -
THIS IS A PRETTY BIG OPPORTUNITY THAT YOU'VE BEEN GIVEN?
"It's like a dream come true. A year ago when I was racing in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, I never imagined that I would be in one of the Roush Racing trucks. I've been focused on my racing this year, and I hope that this a reward for that. This is only the first step, though, and we still have to go out there and race 35 other teams next week."
YOU'VE NEVER RACED AT MEMPHIS BEFORE. IS THAT GOING TO MAKE IT TOUGHER ON YOU?
"I don't really know if it will make it tougher or not. All of the tracks that I've run on recently are tracks that I haven't been to before. As long as you're with an experienced team, they can give you the information and they already have the knowledge to pick up the pace and to get where you need to be really fast. I was already in a truck at Martinsville, and while we had some bad luck, I think that race helped me get acclimated to the handling characteristics of the trucks."
DOES THIS PUT YOUR OTHER RACING PLANS ON HOLD?
"We were only running one-off deals in Winston West when we could get sponsorship. We had already planned to run Vegas at the end of the year and we may still do that; I would still like to do that."
WHAT ARE YOUR IMMEDIATE GOALS?
"I never really set goals or expectations, I just focus on trying to avoid certain things. I don't want to make big mistakes that may prevent me from racing again. I, more or less, don't want to make a fool of myself and learn at my own pace and see what happens."
WILL YOU BE WORKING WITH DAN BINKS ON THE NO. 50 TRUCK?
"Is that the crew chief for the 50? I don't know any of those guys yet. I haven't had the chance to meet him yet but I'm really looking forward to it because I hear nothing but good things about him. He has a championship under his belt already and I know that he will be a great asset. I'm just looking forward to getting in one of Jack's trucks because I know that he's got some of the best equipment out there. That's what gets a driver excited, when you know that you're going out there will something that is going to be competitive, if not better."
THERE IS A PRIOR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WOOD BROTHERS AND JACK ROUSH.
"I don't know of a better team that you would want to drive for; that's one of the greatest teams to drive for in the trucks. There are only two drivers in the nation that get to do that, and I get to; that's a really big honor."
EDDIE WOOD, Jon's Father -
THE WOOD BROTHERS ALREADY HAVE A STRONG RELATIONSHIP WITH JACK ROUSH. DID THAT HELP PAVE THE WAY FOR THIS DEAL?
"Well, I don't know. I've been good friends with Jack on a personal relationship since the 70s. Then it grew and we got involved with Jack and started leasing motors from him and now this. I don't really know how it all happened, but I'm just really glad it did. We had a deal where Jon ran in the Hooters Cup last year and this year he's been in three Winston West races, but those are basically one-off deals where we can get sponsorship. Roush put out a release a couple weeks ago stating their plans for next year and I think that got the ball rolling. They watched Jon out in California and talked to him and it just worked out. They felt this was the right opportunity for him and I'm just happy to see him race."
THIS IS A PRETTY BIG OPPORTUNITY.
"This is a dream come true. If you can pick any team to get involved with in racing, Roush Racing is the team. Jack is like family to us and when Jon is out there it will be like he's racing for us."
THE WINSTON CUP TEAMS ARE AT SEARS POINT NEXT WEEKEND, SO I'M GUESSING YOU MAY HAVE TO WATCH JON ON TV?
"Yeah, that will be tough. Lately I've been lucky to make it to his Winston West races and we were in Martinsville for the Cup race when he ran the truck there. I guess that's a problem you hope you have; I would rather him be racing than not racing."
IS THIS A LOGICAL PROGRESSION FOR JON?
"You would hope so but you never know. In the Winston West races he was running Winston Cup cars with 9:1 motors. They're running 50 to 60 less horsepower, and at that level it's OK. At the truck level, the truck races are very, very competitive and you need to have good equipment to run up front. I can't think of anyone better that I would want Jon to be associated with. I know he's not going to get better equipment than what he's going to get from Jack Roush.
MAX JONES, General Manager - Roush Racing Craftsman Truck Series Program -
WHAT'S THE IMMEDIATE IMPACT OF THIS DECISION?
"The immediate impact is that we hope to take a look at Jon. We've been following him in his Winston West races and we felt like he could be very successful in our truck program. We think he's a young talent that can drive our trucks, so we're going to take a run here and see how he does. If we didn't believe he could do it, we wouldn't have asked him. We're excited about that because we're a development program and this is a development year for us. He's part of our mix and so we felt now is the time to give him a shot."
TO CLARIFY, NOBODY HAS BEEN RELEASED?
"That's right. Right now we know Jon is going to run the next two weekends, and after that I'm not sure. We have three drivers and two trucks at this moment."
ARE YOU TRYING TO PRESERVE HIS ROOKIE STATUS FOR NEXT YEAR?
"We thought about it, but I don't know. If he goes out and wins the next three, we'll scrap the rookie status. Right now it's too premature to be making those decisions. I could tell you more after those three races."
WHAT TRUCK AND TEAM WILL JON BE WORKING WITH?
"He'll be working with Dan Binks (crew chief, No. 50) and we'll try to build some chemistry with him on that team."
JON HAS NEVER RACED BEFORE AT MEMPHIS. WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER A SUCCESSFUL OUTING?
"I hate to even try to put a criteria on that. A good weekend for us will be if he's giving us good input, qualifying well and running the whole race."
DOES HE HAVE A CHANCE TO DO ANY TESTING BEFOREHAND?
"We're going to do some shakedown tests next week. We need to get him acclimated to our trucks and make sure that the seats is comfortable; it's more for cockpit familiarity. "
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO JON'S TALENTS?
"He's a racer. We made the announcement a couple of weeks ago about our plan to field four teams next year and we thought this would be a good time to put Jon in a truck. We haven't been happy with our performance so far this season. That includes drivers, crew members and our owner. We feel that this will be best for our program in the long run."