Preseason Thunder: Ford - Wood interview

Jon Wood, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, helped return Jack Roush atop the list of winningest team owners in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2003, capturing two wins in his second full season of competition. Wood's first career win at...

Jon Wood, driver of the No. 50 Ford F-150, helped return Jack Roush atop the list of winningest team owners in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2003, capturing two wins in his second full season of competition. Wood's first career win at Kansas Speedway in July also ended a winless drought for Roush Racing that spanned more than one full season. In addition to his two victories, Wood ended the season with two poles and a fifth-place finish in the final point standings. Wood, the 22 year-old son of Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Eddie Wood, spoke about the upcoming season during the second day of testing.

JON WOOD -50-Roush Racing Ford F-150

WITH A FULL DAY OF TESTING UNDER YOUR BELT, HOW WOULD YOU RATE THE TEST SO FAR?

"The thing that really makes me feel good about this test is that in years past we've come here and kinda been the same mode, qualifying trim, and we've never been as good as we are this year. I also find it hard to believe that with Toyota jumping in the way they have, I doubt that people are doing the sandbagging to the capacity that they were in years past, especially with the new bodies. Last year the Dodge trucks came here knowing that they were dominant and they held back during the test. This year I don't think they know how they stack up with the other manufacturers and it would be too much of a risk not to run fast and show what they have. Another thing that makes me feel good is the 14 truck is always better than us at these places and right now we're ahead of them."

WITH THE NEW BODY STYLES FOR THE MANUFACTURERS AND THE PRE-SEASON POLITICKING FOR RULE CHANGES, DO YOU STILL EXPECT SOME TEAMS TO HOLD BACK DURING TESTING?

"I know we don't do that. That's a recipe for disaster in my opinion. If you do too much sandbagging it will bite your nose off. Usually we just come here and see what we have, qualify bad and then race well. This year I think we can improve our qualifying efforts and I know we'll race good. It's very good that Ford has a new body style and it's super-competitive from what we've seen so far."

WITH THE TRUCK SERIES MOVING TOWARDS COMMON TEMPLATES THIS YEAR, DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE EACH MANUFACTURER COMPETITIVE AT EVERY TYPE OF RACE TRACK?

"It's not going to change the short-track racing. Last year, you never really saw a Dodge run very well at a place like Martinsville or Bristol, somewhere that body style didn't make a difference. Last year you had guys like Dennis Setzer and Travis Kvapil, people that weren't so competitive at the mile-and-a-half tracks and would win on the smaller tracks, and those guys were getting lapped by Brendan Gaughan who was running three seconds faster than the field at Texas. The discrepancy in the aerodynamics of the trucks last year showed up at the bigger places and the driver's talent showed up at a smaller place. I think this year the common templates should tighten up the field a little at places like Daytona and Texas, but I don't think the racing will change at tracks shorter than three-quarters of a mile."

IS RACING TALENT BEHIND THE WHEEL AT A PREMIUM THIS YEAR, AND IS THAT WHY SOME VETERANS ARE RETURNING TO SERIES?

"I don't know why you're seeing some of the veteran drivers resurfacing, I think it has something to do with the economy. These teams now have more money to spend and they have more money to hire the experienced people. Money buys speed, and with the money and the speed you have with these trucks now, you have to have somebody that can driver and Jack (Sprague) and those guys have proven that so who better to have than an experienced Winston Cup driver."

YOUR TEAM IS CURRENTLY UNSPONSORED AND FINISHED OUT THE SEASON LAST YEAR WITHOUT SPONSORSHIP. ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT THIS TEAM HAS SURVIVED SO LONG WITHOUT PRIMARY SPONSORSHIP?

"In a way it would kind of be difficult to not to run a program that is up and running as ours. My crew chief Jon Monsam, I would hate to see him given to some other team and improve their program as much as he did mine. That would really be frustrating because we have a great group of guys and it took so long to get them all together. I think Jack (Roush) saw the potential there and just said, 'Let's run this team no matter what.' Then again, it's great for Jack to fund a team with no sponsorship and that says a lot for him and a lot for Roush Racing because he's also got a Cup team in the same situation."

CARL EDWARDS REMARKED ON A FRIENDLY RIVALRY BETWEEN YOU AND HIM. HOW DO YOU VIEW THE RIVALRY?

"I view him as the forward on a basketball would view the point guard. You feel like you're going into the deal a little bit behind so you try that much harder to get ahead of him, and then when you do get ahead of him he comes back and gets ahead of you. It's just like a constant battle between the two of us, but if you look at it from a different perspective, one outside the team, it makes both of us better because we're always trying harder."

DO YOU HAVE ANY RUNNING BETS BETWEEN HE TWO OF YOU?

"Since we share an office at the shop, no matter how you position our name on the door somebody's name was above the other. We just decided whoever did the best in the race that weekend had their name on top."

CARL FINISHED SECOND TO YOU TWICE LAST SEASON, AND YOU FINISHED THIRD AT TEXAS, ONE PLACE BEHIND HIM. HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO FOLLOW A TEAMMATE TO THE CHECKERED FLAG?

"It's very tough. It's great for the week's team meeting when you finish one-two but it's tough to follow anybody to the checkered fag. It says a lot for our team as a whole though when we turn in a one-two finish. We both have the same trucks and the same people building them, so it's up to us and our crew chiefs to tune the trucks to fit our driving style. I think we were very competitive last year and think it will be even better this season."

DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE TOUGHER TO WIN THIS YEAR WITH SOME OF THE DRIVERS ENTERING OR RETURNING TO THE SERIES THIS SEASON?

"It is but I don't think anybody is going to dominate. The same guys or teams that ran up front last year will run up front this year. There may be a couple more that surprise everybody, but generally speaking, I think it will be the same teams up front."

EVEN WITH TOYOTA ENTERING THE SERIES?

"Yeah, they will be in it, but it will take them some time. It's not going to be a deal where you'll have 25 different winners in 25 races. Then again, the competition level will be raised."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TOYOTA ENTERING THE SERIES?

"It's exciting. It says a lot about the global economy. To have another manufacturer that's primarily an international manufacturer, that says a lot about the sport. When you think that in the 1950s they were running on the sand out here and you never even heard of a Toyota and now to be racing against, them is cool."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO LEAVE THE DAYTONA RACE WITH A GOOD FINISH?

"You get all of your momentum from the first couple of races and to be able to go out of Daytona with a good finish is huge. But, Stuff happens here so much faster than it does anywhere else that you can be a victim of circumstance before you even know it."

YOUR FAMILY'S RACE TEAM RECENTLY RELOCATED FROM STUART, VIRGINIA, TO MOORESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, ONCE AGAIN LOCATING THEM IN THE SAME CITY AS YOU. HAS THAT HAD AN IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?

"I haven't been going to Stuart as much over the winter, that's about all that has really changed for me. I can't really get in as much trouble now because the whole point of me moving away from home was so I could get out of harm's way and they couldn't keep such good tabs on me, and now they're in my backyard more of less. Other than that, I think it will also improve their program. If it does half as much for them as it did for us, it will pay huge dividends."

YOUR ROUSH RACING TRUCK TEAM MOVED FROM MICHIGAN TO NORTH CAROLINA LAST YEAR AND MADE IMMEDIATE PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS. IS IT EASIER TO FIND A BETTER QUALITY OF PEOPLE IN NORTH CAROLINA?

"It's not better quality people, but they're better trained. I grew up in Stuart, Virginia, and there's no better quality people than them. I think in Mooresville (N.C.) they will have better equipped people and people that are more prepared."

WITH RICKY RUDD DRIVING FOR THE WOOD BROS. AGAIN THIS YEAR AND NEARING RETIREMENT, DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DRIVING FOR YOUR FAMILY IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

"That would be wonderful, but I think a lot of things are going to have to happen there for that to work out. For now I'm a Roush driver and until Jack (Roush) tells me otherwise that's what I am, and I'm working on winning him another championship for his trophy case."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dennis Setzer , Jon Wood , Brendan Gaughan , Jack Roush , Travis Kvapil
Teams Wood Brothers Racing