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 quickly making a name for himself.
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 quickly making a name for himself. Wood has posted three consecutive top-five finishes since losing the primary sponsor on his Roush Racing Ford and has climbed into seventh place in the point standings, 191 points out of first, heading into the ninth race of the season at The Milwaukee Mile.
JON WOOD-50-Roush Racing Ford F-150
WITH THE CURRENT STRING OF TOP-FIVE FINISHES IN THE LAST THREE RACES, WHAT HAS CHANGED?
"From a performance standpoint, if you look at the numbers and the way finished, you would think that the past couple of weeks have been an improvement, but it really hasn't. We've been really good all year long, we just haven't had the finishes to show for it. People say that I'm driving harder because I lost a sponsor, but we finished eighth at Daytona and second at Bakersfield. Those were the first two races of the season and we had a sponsor then. We ran good at Darlington before we had a mechanical failure, and we had a good truck at Martinsville and got into a wreck. All year long, we've had an outstanding team and an outstanding effort going into each race, we just haven't had the finishes to show for it. We've just had a little bit of luck on our side the past couple of weeks to really capitalize on what we're capable of doing."
WITH YOUR CURRENT LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE, IS THIS TEAM STILL RACING ON A WEEK-TO-WEEK BASIS?
"I am because we don't know how long we can keep doing this without someone coming along to help us out. I'm just going about it the same way I have been for last eight or nine years that I've been racing. Nothing has changed. It's just that now it's a little bit more important that we run well so that we can attract sponsors so that we can keep going. I've just been doing the same thing I've always been doing."
YOU RACED MOST OF LAST SEASON WITHOUT A TEAMMATE. HAS THE ADDITION OF CARL EDWARDS HELPED YOU THIS SEASON?
"That was kinda frustrating, too, last year. It does help to have a teammate, especially with two beginning teams. When we moved down to Mooresville, I considered this a brand-new team. It's owned by the same guy and it has the same number and I'm still driving it, but I've had to totally relearn how to drive these things and adapt to a new crew chief, new crew and everything."
YOUR CREW CHIEF, JOHN MONSAM, WAS SUSPENDED FOR TWO RACES FOLLOWING BAKERSFIELD. DID IT TAKE A FEW MORES RACES FOR THIS TEAM TO GET UP TO SPEED WITH HIS ABSENCE?
"I think so. We had two real bad finishes when he wasn't at the track. We qualified good at Charlotte, but we didn't race that good. I think we my have had a little bit of mechanical problems, but nevertheless he wasn't there and we didn't finish well. Other than that, we've just had a good team. The benefit with John more so than another other crew chief is that he has lived in the truck series. He's made a career out of being a truck series crew chief; this is all he has ever done. He did do some Winston Cup stuff, but when you get somebody as experienced as he is in truck racing, it can't be anything but beneficial. I thought that when the decision was made that we'd be all right and that my mom could crew chief this thing. Now I'm beginning to wonder."
YOU AND CARL EDWARDS HAVE BEEN RACING EACH OTHER HARD THE PAST COUPLE OF RACES. IS THERE A FRIENDLY RIVALRY DEVELOPING?
"We share the same office in our shop in Mooresville, and any way you put our names on the door, someone is going to be in front. Whoever finishes in front of the other each week gets their name at the top. That's the big motivation behind all this."
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."
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."
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 now 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 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."