This Week in Ford Racing April 8, 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Jon Wood, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, is in his third year of competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the 21-year-old son of Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Eddie...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 8, 2003
NASCAR Craftsman Truck
Jon Wood, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, is in his third year of competition in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the 21-year-old son of Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Eddie Wood is expecting a turnaround in fortunes from last season. Wood and his U.S. Navy Racing crew posted 10 top-10 finishes in 22 races in 2002, but the veteran Craftsman Truck Series team failed to post a single top-five finish. Just three races into the 2003 season, Wood has a second-place finish to his credit and currently sits sixth in the point standings entering this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway.
JON WOOD-50-U.S. Navy Racing Ford F-150
WITH ROUSH'S TRUCK OPERATIONS MOVING FROM MICHIGAN TO NORTH CAROLINA DURING THE OFF-SEASON, HAVE THERE BEEN A LOT CHANGES TO ENDURE? "The past two years that I've been involved in the Craftsman Truck Series, it's been the same team primarily. This is the first year that we've really reconstructed the whole entire team. We're really excited about this year with all of the changes that we've made that include a move to North Carolina and the hiring of some new crew members. We've got excellent trucks being built in the shop and the changes from last year to this year are really astonishing when you look at what has happened in such a short period of time."
WITH THE MOVE FROM MICHIGAN, HAVE YOU SEEN ANY IMMEDIATE GAINS? "The truck has seen a benefit. We have some nice stuff. The guys in Michigan worked their tails off, and my hat's off to them, but it was just time for a change. All of those guys in any given spot were as good as anybody else, but the way that we had things organized in Michigan wasn't really getting it done. I think we have a few more resources at our disposal in North Carolina with all of Roush's other NASCAR teams being headquartered there, and I think there's more transfer of information between these vehicles than we had thought."
HAS YOUR COMFORT LEVEL IN THE TRUCKS INCREASED OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS? "I know that the past couple of weeks that my truck has actually felt like a car, it's driven so well. I used to say that I liked driving a car better because I thought they were more stable, but I think that now that we've got our truck running better, it's handling a lot more like a car. It's hard to distinguish the two. I was very comfortable in the Winston West car and when I tested the Winston Cup car, I liked that a lot. The Craftsman Truck Series and the Busch Series are both very good learning series."
TALK ABOUT YOUR GOALS FOR THIS SEASON AND WHAT YOU FEEL WOULD CONSTITUTE A SUCCESSFUL YEAR. "We're going to run the Craftsman Truck Series, and whatever comes with that comes with it. We haven't had a chance to sit down and discuss our goals yet. We've been working hard to get moved down to North Carolina and to get new trucks built, all the while trying to find ways to close the gap to the Dodges. Anything above and beyond what has happened this past year will be an improvement in some form or fashion."
DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE STARTING TO GAIN THE RESPECT OF THE OTHER COMPETITORS IN THE SERIES? "There is only so much respect you can have being as young as I am. There is always the fear in somebody's mind that 'this kid is wild,' but I've been with these guys for a long time and maybe I can start running with the front-runners this year instead of the mid-pack."
THE SERIES LOST A FEW FULL-TIME TEAMS FROM LAST YEAR, BUT HAS THAT DIMINISHED THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN THE SERIES? "The stout trucks are still here. We lost the 60 and 20, but that was about it. The addition of Bobby Hamilton just adds to the depth that we have, and I think he's going to be the guy to beat. The Craftsman Truck Series has been noted for having young drivers and as a stepping-stone series, but now that we have Cup drivers coming back into the truck series, it definitely makes it tougher and I think it only adds recognition to the series itself. People know the likes of Bobby Hamilton and Ted Musgrave and that will only help to promote the series and get recognition for the rest of us."
YOU COMPETED IN THE BUSCH SERIES RACE AT IRP LAST YEAR. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO COMPETE IN THE BUSCH SERIES THIS SEASON? "That's still kind of up in the air. We did get the Navy signed back on for this year, and that is a huge thing for us. I know that they are really excited about the program that we have this year; it just took us a little while to get things worked out. It should be a good overall."
YOU WERE ABLE TO TEST A BUSCH CAR LAST YEAR BEFORE RUNNING THE BUSCH SERIES RACE AT IRP, BUT THERE IS NO TESTING ALLOWED IN THE TRUCK SERIES. IS THAT RULE A DISADVANTAGE FOR THE YOUNG DRIVERS IN THE TRUCK SERIES? "It definitely makes it a lot easier to be able to go test somewhere and know what to expect and have a close setup when you go back. It can only help matters and make things a little bit easier. You know what the track conditions will be like, to a degree, and that's better than guessing based off of what happened the previous year. In the trucks, probably more than the Busch Series, there's a premium placed on experience and I think the no testing rule has a lot to do with that. You only get two or three practice sessions before every truck race, and if that's your first time at that track, that makes it tough. Last year, it was really tough racing against guys that had been to these tracks that we raced at 10 times or more."
THERE WILL BE AT LEAST TWO WINSTON CUP COMPETITORS TRYING TO MAKE THE FIELD FOR SATURDAY'S RACE. IS THEIR PRESENCE A DISTRACTION TO YOU OR CAN YOU USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE? "The fact that they're there and they have experience around the track might help me to find my line around there faster. But, by the time the race comes around on Saturday, they'll just be somebody else running on the track. We usually just focus on doing our own thing and I don't know how much we could learn from them anyway."