Today on "The Morning Drive" on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, hosts Mike Bagley and David Poole spoke with Jon Wood, driver of the ...
Today on "The Morning Drive" on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, hosts Mike Bagley and David Poole spoke with Jon Wood, driver of the #21 Ford F-150 for Wood Brothers Racing. Wood was scheduled to drive the #21 Air Force Ford in this weekend's UAW Dodge 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but, as he revealed today on SIRIUS, he will be giving up his seat to Johnny Sauter for Sunday's race.
Jon Wood: "I was supposed to race in the Cup race this weekend in Vegas. Due to certain circumstances I'm going to relinquish my seat to Johnny Sauter. The reason being is I don't really know that I want the responsibility of it being a make-or-break situation trying to make that race. With the car outside the top 35 in owner points and not being guaranteed a starting spot that's a pretty big demand to put on somebody. I've got no seat time whatsoever in the COT car and I just, quite frankly, don't think I'm suited for the job in trying to make that race. There are a lot of unknowns and a lot of variables to speak of involving me and the Cup car and whatnot. It's just something that I don't feel comfortable with. And I had originally planned on Bill Elliott attempting to make that...and I keep saying 'um' and it's tearing me apart just trying to get it all out...but Bill was going to try to go ahead and do the race for me and he's got some stuff going on and can't do it. My dad and I and everyone else seemed to think that Johnny Sauter might be the best guy for the job. He's very qualified when it comes to qualifying and will just do an awesome job so I think that's probably the best decision. It's bittersweet. Well, I don't really know of any sweet part about it, maybe just bitter. It's nothing that I've done wrong and it is partly my decision to do this. Like I said, I'm not comfortable doing it. We're going to go to Kentucky a lot between now and the next race that I'm scheduled to run which, if I'm not mistaken, is the [Coca-Cola] 600 so doing that will give me a lot of added time in the car and working with [crew chief] Gene [Nead] and just trying to get the ball rolling. Meanwhile, the car is 23 points out of 35th and that's a big deal to be able to have a secured starting spot. That's what everybody wants and with that car being that close I don't want to be anywhere near being the guy responsible for messing that up."
Host, Mike Bagley: "How did you guys land on Johnny Sauter? Why not Marcos Ambrose or someone else? Why Johnny Sauter of all the guys that are available?"
Jon Wood: "My dad and Len [Wood] and everybody else, they opted to go with somebody that had the best qualifying record of the available drivers that have shown promise in a COT car, Johnny being that guy. No disrespect to Marcos but he would be a side-step. I'm not scared to try to qualify the car. Again, it's all about getting somebody that is better suited and with Marcos having no seat time in a COT they might as well have me do it. It's all about picking the best guy for the job and the best guy for this particular type of circumstance."
"It would be one thing if I were racing for a Jack Roush, as I did before, or a Tad Geschickter, as I did before, but it's another whenever you have stock in the organization, so to speak. Not only would I be letting down the race team and the car owner but I'd be letting down my family."
Host, David Poole: "Has the fact that you've had zero luck in the first two truck races had anything to do with this? Is your confidence shaken in any way because everything bad that can happen to you pretty much has happened to you in the first two truck races?"
Jon Wood: "Yes, to answer you question that everything bad could've happened has but, no, that hasn't rattled my confidence. Speaking about the truck team, we've got our stuff together. We've had some bad luck. We had bad luck in Daytona and I got run into from behind trying to maneuver through an accident. The California thing, we broke a rear-end gear. That was not of my doing. That was not of the team's doing. That was nothing that any of us intentionally did or any type of malpractice, I guess you could say. We just had bad luck. We're fast. We're moving forward. So, no, that has not influenced this decision whatsoever. This has been in the making for quite some time now. I look at it from another standpoint, the Cup race that is. It's, in my opinion, the most important race of the year for the Air Force next to the Memorial Day Weekend race, the [Coca-Cola] 600. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is positioned directly across from Nellis Air Force base. It's the Air Force's first race of the year and there are just a lot of things, a lot of mitigating factors that go into this. It's not something that you want to take lightly and it is very important for them to have a car that is in the field on Sunday. Again, it's not a matter of I don't feel like I can get the job done. I just don't know a lot about a COT car. I've had a grand total of about seven hours now of seat time in one. I'm where, for instance, Johnny Sauter was last year at this time. So everybody's got a pretty good little jump on me. One of two things is going to happen by the time the next race comes around. Either I'm going to be guaranteed a starting spot [and] we'll have the car in the top 35 or I'll have tested a lot in Kentucky between now and then and won't be so gun shy and timid around these things."
Wood said he will still travel to Las Vegas this weekend but admitted it will be hard to watch another driver pilot his race car.
Jon Wood: "I kind of made the comparison that me watching somebody else race that car is about like a guy having to watch another man have an affair with his wife. It's a tough feeling but, like I said, it's without question the right thing to do. Nothing is going to change my mind about it. It is the right thing to do."
"The Morning Drive" airs weekdays (7-11 am ET) exclusively on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio channel 128.