While Wood Brothers/JTG Racing will have a pair of rookies - Marcos Ambrose and Bobby East -driving for the startup team in the Craftsman Truck Series for the majority of the 2006 season, two series veterans will start the year in Daytona. Jon...
While Wood Brothers/JTG Racing will have a pair of rookies - Marcos Ambrose and Bobby East -driving for the startup team in the Craftsman Truck Series for the majority of the 2006 season, two series veterans will start the year in Daytona. Jon Wood and Stacy Compton, ST Motorsports' two Busch Series drivers, will compete on the opening superspeedways before handing over driving duties later in season. Wood and Compton, both two-time winners in the truck series, spoke about the progression of the startup team and the results of testing.
STACY COMPTON-21-Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Ford F-150 - YOU LAST MADE A START IN THE TRUCK SERIES IN 2002. HOW MUCH HAVE THE TRUCKS CHANGED SINCE THAT TIME? "I don't know if they've changed that much; they're still a blast to drive. It's just pretty cool to unload a good truck and run good straight through from the time we unloaded. They're still real racy. They've gotten a lot more aerodynamic, but not as bad as the Cup cars and Busch cars, so they're still a lot of fun to drive."
WHEN DID YOU LEARN THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO FILL IN FOR BOBBY EAST FOR THE START OF THE SEASON? "We talked about it back before Christmas. We were not really sure what NASCAR was going to do with Bobby (East) or Marcos (Ambrose). I hate it for Bobby, but if somebody was going to have to be in the truck other than him, it's a good opportunity for me to get back in the series. Gary (Cogswell, crew chief) and I have worked together before, so it was a good opportunity for me, and I think it's worked well and will help Bobby when he does get in the 21 truck. Bobby was down here for the last two days and saw what went on between me and Gary and how things worked, so I think it was a good deal all the way around. I'm having a blast."
WITH THIS BEING A TWO-RACE DEAL, IS THERE LESS PRESSURE ON YOU COMPARED TO YOUR FULL-TIME EFFORT IN THE BUSCH SERIES? "There's actually probably a little more pressure because we don't have any points. We're trying to get the team established and get some points to where after that fourth race they'll be in good enough position that points doesn't make any difference because they're locked in. It's a pretty high-pressure deal when you come to a track knowing that only five or six spots are available for 15 to 20 trucks. We've worked really hard this week on single-truck runs, and I think we've got a pretty good truck. Hopefully we make the field, and we know it drafts really good. We've been in the top 10 ever since we unloaded, in drafting practice and qualifying practice. We've got an awful good truck, and we just want to get in this thing and get some good points. If we can do that in February, it will be a good weekend."
DOES THE NUMBER OF COMPETITIVE TEAMS THAT ARE HERE TESTING SURPRISE YOU? "I'm not surprised. If you look, there are good teams everywhere. We're just fortunate to be with Ford, that's given us a ton of support and it makes a difference. We unloaded and we felt like we knew where the bodies were and we felt like they should be good. It's been a long time since any of us truck raced and the wind tunnel didn't lie. It said the trucks were pretty good."
DOES THIS THREE-DAY TEST GIVE YOU A LITTLE BIT OF HEAD START ON YOUR BUSCH EFFORTS? "I think does, but it's just good to get back in the truck, period. Tad (Geschickter, co-owner) and I have joked about it a lot. I love the truck series. Anytime you get in one it's a lot of fun, and anytime you get in a really good one it's a lot more fun. Everybody is ready for the season to be over in November and about two weeks after that you're already ready to go racing again. This just gave me a chance to go racing a little bit earlier than some of the Busch guys."
THE TWO TRUCK TEAMS ARE A PRODUCT OF THE NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN WOOD BROTHERS AND ST MOTORSPORTS. IS THERE A FRIENDLY COMPETITION HEATING UP BETWEEN THE TEAMS TO SEE WHICH ONE CAN GET UP TO SPEED QUICKER? "I think it's always a friendly, whether it's the Busch cars or truck or whatever. It's a little bit different now because both of us know we have to get in the show on time. In the Busch deal, we're in the show and we know we're in the show, and we can play around and joke around and try some things that might be off the wall. Here, it's a little bit different because we know we both have to get in the show. There may be five or six spots available and we need two of the spots. We're working really good together. The two teams are working really good together as far as what works. They're doing chassis stuff and we're doing aero stuff, and at the end of the day we put everything they've learned on our truck and they put everything we've learned on their truck. It's a little bit of a different situation here in the trucks, but there's still a little bit of a friendly rivalry."
COMMENT ON THE IMPACT OF THE SPACER PLATE BEING USED THIS SEASON AT THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS? "It's going to tighten the pack up, but as we saw yesterday, these trucks knock such a huge hole in the air that we were nearly three-quarters of a straightway behind, it was three of us, and we ran down seven. I think it's going to make the packs a little bit closer, but these things knock such a big hole in the air that you can still get out there and race. We went from the back to the front, back to the back, back to the front, inside and outside, and they still have got some throttle response. Maybe not as much as you need, but they still have enough that you can race."
JON WOOD-20-Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Ford F-150 - DISCUSS YOU ROLE WITH THE TRUCK TEAM TO START TO SEASON. "It was kind of a last minute decision to run the trucks this year and it's been a scramble all winter long to get them up and running and going. To come here considering that six weeks ago we didn't even have a truck team, all in all, the weekend has gone quite well. With my experience in the truck series and Stacy's as well, we're trying to get these two startup teams up to speed for Marcos and Bobby when they get approved by NASCAR."
IS IT WEIRD SEEING THE NO. 21 PARKED NEXT YOU GIVEN THAT IT'S YOUR FAMILY'S NEXTEL CUP NUMBER? "My cousin (Keven Wood) races the number 20, so this a family number to me as well."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS TO ACCOMPLISH IN THE TRUCK SERIES? "Our trucks weren't as competitive my last season in the truck series compared to the season before, and I'm just looking to come back, and the first three races that I run, show a bit of competitiveness and that a startup truck team can be a bit of a threat, and these multi-truck teams aren't at so much of advantage."
IS THERE LESS PRESSURE ON YOU IN THE TRUCK SERIES SINCE THIS IS A FILL-IN ROLE? "The truck series is a lot more laid back. This is fun racing, not that Busch racing isn't fun, but there's no added pressure. You come here and you do your laps and go back to the hotel. There's no extra stuff to do beyond that. It's not better, it's just different."
DO YOU EXPECT THIS THREE-DAY TO TEST TO HELP YOUR BUSCH SERIES EFFORTS? "Everything that we learn here I'm sure is applicable to a Busch car."
"WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE SPACER PLATE BEING USED THIS SEASON AT THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS? "They still have decent power, and I think the biggest restrictor plate on the truck is the windshield. It still feels about the same as it did the last year that I drove the trucks. The trucks are a lot more stable in the draft, though."
THE TWO TRUCK TEAMS ARE A PRODUCT OF THE NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN WOOD BROTHERS AND ST MOTORSPORTS. IS THERE A FRIENDLY COMPETITION HEATING UP BETWEEN THE TEAMS TO SEE WHICH ONE CAN GET UP TO SPEED QUICKER? "It doesn't take a lot of talent to qualify here, and the times you see on the board represent the work the team did back in the shop. I'm sure by the time we go to California and Atlanta there will be a little bit of a friendly competition between the two teams, but there's nothing bitter about it."