This Week in Ford Racing
October 31, 2001
Los Angeles, Calif. (Oct. 31, 2001) -- Jon Wood celebrated his 20th birthday in Phoenix last weekend, and when he once again teams with 16-year-old Kyle Busch this weekend in California, the youngest tandem of drivers in Craftsman Truck Series history will no longer be teenage teammates. Wood, who finished a career-best fourth place at the inaugural O'Reilly 250 at Kansas Speedway in July, will make his 16th start of the season at the series finale at California Speedway in Saturday's Auto Club 200, a track he has visited prior in Winston West competition. Wood spoke about his season and the difficulties he encountered when he took over driving duties midway through the 2001 season.
YOU'VE COMPETED AT BOTH PHOENIX AND CALIFORNIA, THE FINAL TWO RACES ON THE TRUCK SCHEDULE, IN THE WINSTON WEST SERIES. GRANTED, YOU'LL BE RACING A DIFFERENT TYPE OF VEHICLE, BUT DO EXPECT YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE TO ADVANCE YOUR LEARNING CURVE AT THESE PLACES IN THE TRUCKS? "The more laps that you get at any place, the better you'll be. I don't think it helped us or hurt us at Vegas when we ran the Winston West car and the truck on the same weekend because speedways are a totally different deal from short tracks. It did help in the sense of finding the line and figuring the place out. Laps are laps, whether you're on a bicycle or in a spaceship. It doesn't really matter what you drive because it's the same place and pretty much the same line."
ARE YOU PUTTING ADDED PRESSURE ON YOURSELF THESE LAST TWO RACES SINCE YOU HAVE PRIOR EXPERIENCE THERE? "No, we're going to continue to struggle a little on the short tracks because half of these places we go to, the rest of the guys have been there so many times. That's a little different than a speedway because the short tracks have been around longer and the trucks used to run mainly on short tracks, where now we're running a lot of speedways. I think that we should run really well at Fontana. I thought we would have had a better run at Phoenix. We changed a lot of things in the truck to make it like Greg's (Biffle), but we were too loose, so something wasn't the same."
WHAT ARE THE INHERIT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A TRUCK AND A CAR? "Aerodynamics. When you back off the throttle on a truck it just wants to stop, but on a car it's just like a rocket."
YOU'VE RUN BOTH THE WINSTON WEST AND CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SERIES THIS YEAR. DO YOU BELIEVE THE TRUCK SERIES IS A VALUABLE PROVING GROUND EVEN THOUGH THE VEHICLES ARE SO DIFFERENT FROM BUSCH OR WINSTON CUP? "I think the trucks are a good proving ground because you learn so much in the trucks and the racing's good. The racing is probably the best it is in the three premier series. Everyone is so equal and you've got guys like Jack Sprague and Ted Musgrave, and they've been around a lot longer than Kevin Harvick. He may be good, but in my opinion, the racing is just better with the trucks because it's total hands-on racing. It's down and dirty racing at its simplest."
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE PROGRESSION FROM THE TRUCK SERIES, STRAIGHT TO WINSTON CUP OR A STOP IN THE BUSCH SERIES? "That's all Jack Roush's decision; it's whatever he wants to do. Biffle has had success in the Busch Series, and I think Kurt's (Busch) struggling a little bit, not because of his ability, but things aren't going well. It's not him or the team, it's just something there. I think Kurt was ready for Cup, and I feel he'll run good in the future."
HAVE YOU SET ANY GOALS FOR YOUR LAST START OF THE SEASON? "We just want to finish it. We want to finish the year out well so that the guys will have some confidence going into next year. I just hope for the best."
YOU'RE SIGNED TO DRIVE FOR JACK ROUSH NEXT SEASON, BUT DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? "Right now, I drive for Jack Roush and his organization, so I give that my full attention. This team is already preparing for 2002, just like before, taking the steps to have another good season. It was kind of difficult jumping into the truck halfway through the year and expecting to run competitively, so I think that next year we should see a little better improvement. We've got some work to do for next year, but I think that Greg has shown that we still have the equipment to get the job done on a weekly basis. We need to pick up where Greg left off."
YOU HAD TO GIVE UP ANY REAL CHANCE AT ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR HONORS THIS YEAR SINCE YOU WILL HAVE STARTED A TOTAL OF 16 EVENTS. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU REGRET? "I'm just glad to be driving something on a full-time basis. I don't care too much about the rookie awards because that's not my ultimate goal. I really don't put any expectations on myself. I just want to have good finishes more than anything. I focus more on the end-of-season point total than wins or top fives. The NASCAR point system rewards you for finishing at the end of the race, not so much for winning. If you're going to win the championship, you can't have too many DNFs, and that's what we want to avoid for the rest of this year and limit next season."