Jon Wood, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, is entering 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 for 2003. Wood...
Jon Wood, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, is entering 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 for 2003. 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. A host of changes were made to the Roush Racing team in the off-season that included a change in operations from Livonia, Michigan to Mooresville, North Carolina, and the acquisition of a new crew chief, veteran John Monsam. Wood spoke about the upcoming season and his assessment of the three-day test session.
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. I can't wait to come back here and race. I can't wait to go to a short track when we can really apply some of John's (Monsam) knowledge and utilize everybody on the team. Daytona, as everybody has been talking about for the past three days, is a Dodge show right now and that's really unfortunate. I'm hoping that we can maybe get some kind of rule change, but we'll see."
TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW CREW CHIEF JOHN MONSAM. "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."
KYLE BUSCH WILL BE BACK IN THE TRUCK SERIES STARTING WITH THE RACE IN CHARLOTTE. HOW WILL THE ADDITION OF A TEAMMATE IMPACT YOUR EFFORTS? "It can't hurt. Having a teammate is usually a benefit, but you have to have the communication between the two teams. Kyle may not be racing yet, but his crew chief Doug Richert is here and he is already preparing for Kyle's return to the truck series. We're working on the communication right now between John and Doug so when Kyle gets back in the truck, neither team will skip a beat."
WITH THE MOVE FROM MICHIGAN, HAVE YOU SEEN ANY IMMEDIATE GAINS? "The truck has seen a benefit. It's lost about 180 on the way down. 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."
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 a new superspeedway truck 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."
WITH THE LACK OF PRACTICE TODAY, DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE LEAVING HERE WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING ALL OF YOUR OBJECTIVES? "I drafted here last year. Drafting is nothing really. It's just follow the leader. We draft at a lot of places that we run at, but the only difference between here and at California Speedway is that you have to hold it wide open instead of lifting for just a split second. The concept of drafting applies there and here as well."
YOU FINISHED 21ST IN LAST YEAR'S EVENT AT DAYTONA. DO YOU FEEL THAT THE EXPERIENCE YOU GAINED HERE LAST YEAR WILL HELP YOU, OR IS THE RACE HERE A CRAPSHOOT? "Last year what knocked us out of the race wasn't on-track activity, it was on pit road, not of my doing. Hindsight is 20/20 and it wasn't Hornaday's fault and it wasn't mine, it was just one of those accidents that happens. Unfortunately enough, it was at Daytona where you need a body here more than anywhere. I didn't cause any big problems last year and I kept my nose clean for the whole race, and if we can do the same this year, I know we can come out on top."
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."
THERE ARE FEWER TEAMS TESTING AT DAYTONA THIS 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."