Donnie Wingo, crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion took time during Friday's rain delay at the 2011 Daytona Preseason Thunder to discuss the upcoming season, his guidance of rookie driver Trevor Bayne and how the track at Daytona has evolved since the repaving project.
EDDIE WOOD DESCRIBED TREVOR AS HAVING AN "IT" QUALITY. DO YOU SEE THAT AS WELL? "Yeah, for sure. From the time he got in the car at Texas last year to the end of the race, he is just one of those guys that just has this knack. The part I liked about Texas was he did a real good job of racing for us. A kid like that, he has the speed, a lot of times it takes some of those guys to get the racing part down but I think he already has that down. Just from the way he raced at Texas, racing around the other cars and the way he was able to pass cars and not just sit and ride behind cars was a good thing. He searched until he found a way to get around cars. I think that is something that you can't teach these young kids; they just have to learn it on their own."
YOU HAVE WORKED WITH TREVOR SINCE THE TEXAS RACE. HOW HAS THE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN YOU TWO EVOLVED AND HOW DO YOU THINK IT WILL EVOLVE? "I think it is like anything else. Guys that work together for a long time build a relationship and it makes things a lot easier, especially when it comes to race time and making adjustments. A lot of times you can tell from a driver's voice how bad or good something is. That is something that will take time for us, but as the races go on this year I think we will build that. His feedback is good. His feedback from the race at Texas was good and it has been good at the test here. If he keeps giving us good feedback then we will be able to make the car better which is what you have to do to win races."
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT DEALING WITH A ROOKIE DRIVER AS OPPOSED TO A VETERAN GUY? "There are some things that I think I can contribute to him at some places we go that will open his eyes to certain things about the track, its characteristics, how it will go during the race. That way he can focus on how we need to adjust the car the right way for him. I have worked with a lot of young kids over the years. It is a relationship you have to build as time goes on. Trevor is a real good kid. He is very respectful and he wants to do well and has a tremendous amount of desire and talent."
FROM A CREW CHIEF PERSPECTIVE, HOW HAS THIS TRACK CHANGED SINCE THE REPAVE AND EVEN THE TIRE TEST IN DECEMBER AND WHAT DOES THAT DO TO YOU FOR THE 500 NEXT MONTH? "It is kind of hard to tell right now because we have really only done single car runs. As we get into speed weeks I think we will be able to tell more. I don't think it will be anything near what it was down here before where handling was a big issue. The track is going to have so much grip that you will have trouble trying to get the car to run free through the corner. I don't think it is going to be a deal to where you get a big push or get real free or something like that. I think the track has so much grip that the first race will be a lot like Talladega, just raw speed."
-source: ford racing