BUSCH: Charlotte II: This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing October 11, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series Jon Wood, driver of the No. 47 Ford, posted his second top-five finish of the season last weekend at Kansas Speedway following a second-place qualifying effort. ...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 11, 2005

NASCAR Busch Series

Jon Wood, driver of the No. 47 Ford, posted his second top-five finish of the season last weekend at Kansas Speedway following a second-place qualifying effort. Wood, who is currently 16th in the driver point standings in his rookie season in the Busch Series, spoke about the progress of his ST Motorsports team and his future racing plans.

JON WOOD-47-Clorox/Wisk Ford Taurus

DID LAST WEEK'S FIFTH-PLACE FINISH AT KANSAS SPEEDWAY SIGNAL A TURNAROUND IN YOUR SEASON? "We're back to where we were in the beginning of the year. It seemed like in that 17-week stretch of consecutive races we got a little bit behind, our performance was slacking and it was a struggle. That stretch is very demanding and it just takes a lot out of the team, out of the driver and out of the owner; it's just tough. Once we got through that and had a couple of weeks to get caught back up, I think we're back to where we were when we were posting those top-five qualifying positions and finishing in the top 10."

IT WAS ANNOUNCED EARLIER THIS SUMMER THAT THE WOOD BROTHERS AND ST MOTORSPORTS WOULD FORM AN ALLIANCE. ARE THE IMPROVEMENTS IN YOUR RECENT RESULTS ATTRIBUTED TO THE JOINT VENTURE? "It's still so early in the deal that it hasn't trickled down to the Busch cars yet. They're still working on where the shop is going to be, and all of these big decisions that have to be made, they have to be made early and it hasn't really had time to help the Busch cars yet. Fatback (Michael McSwain) tries to give his input as much as he can, but with all that he has going on, his plate is very full with crew chiefing the 21 and also being an integral part in all of these decisions that will be made for all of the teams that will be racing under that one roof next year."

CUP DRIVERS HAVE DOMINATED THE PAST FEW BUSCH RACES. DO YOU FEEL THAT YOU'RE GETTING CUP-LIKE EXPERIENCE DRIVING WITH ALL OF THE CUP VETERANS IN THE BUSCH RACES? "There are a bunch of Busch drivers that are complaining about the Cup guys coming in and stealing the show. From an owner's standpoint, I agree with it 100 percent because it does take away from the money that goes right back into the race teams. But from a driver's standpoint, I wish that the entire field was Cup drivers. I know that it has accelerated my learning curve tremendously just by racing against people like Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman. Those guys are the best there is, and when you can pass those guys legitimately you're doing something right, and that experience that I've gained throughout the year by racing them is attributed to a lot of our successes lately."

YOU STARTED YOUR NASCAR CAREER IN THE TRUCK SERIES BEFORE MOVING TO THE BUSCH SERIES. IN HINDSIGHT, WERE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH THAT PROGRESSION? "It does in a lot of respects. The level of competition, obviously, and the way that you have to drive these Busch cars is so far different from a truck. First off, they only start 36 trucks in every race so there is a lot more room on the track, so to speak. There are just a handful of guys in the truck series that can win, and so the field is fairly spread out and you have some breathing room and some time to think. These Busch cars, everybody is on top of each other. You look at all of the restarts that we have and you're seeing a minimum of three-wide several different rows back, sometimes four- and five-wide, and it doesn't stop. You're always on top of the wheel; you're always trying to drive beyond the limits of the car and somebody still being able to go faster. It's frustrating, but it makes you so much better because you never really have time to think, and then at the end of the race you've done all you can do. When you go to a track like California or Michigan, one of these bigger tracks where there is time to relax, you find yourself not doing it and driving even better."

YOU POSTED YOUR SECOND TOP-FIVE FINISH LAST WEEK AT THE TRACK WHERE YOU WON YOUR FIRST TRUCK RACE. HOW MUCH OF THE SPORT IS MENTAL? "A lot of it is. A good deal is being able to go and test. With that long stretch of races that we had, we weren't able to go test anywhere and that hurt us a lot, but now that we've had some weeks off we've done a lot of testing. We tested Charlotte and Kansas, and we're going to Memphis tomorrow, and I think that will really help us prevail. I think we have a really good car for Charlotte - just as good as we did for Kansas - it's just all about preparation. A lot of that preparation is mental, and a lot of it is knowing that you're going to the race track with all of the confidence in your crew chief and all of the confidence in your cars, but you still have to have fast cars at the end of the day and know what you're doing."

YOUR NAME STARTED SWIRLING AROUND THE RUMOR MILL EARLY THIS SUMMER. DID THE RUMORS OF YOU MOVING TO NEXTEL CUP COMPETITION NEXT YEAR SERVE AS A DISTRACTION? "It wasn't. They weren't asking me to be at the Wood Brothers shop for any length of time, so I was still able to go to my shop whenever I needed to, and nothing extra was asked of me. I highly doubt that it was a distraction. You can't say for sure. There are a lot of distractions these days. There are so many things that can cause distractions, but overall, I maintained my focus pretty good with all that was going on. I don't think that was an issue."

WHAT ARE YOUR RACING PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR? "As they stand today, I will do a minimum of seven Cup races. The 21 thing, that's still up in the air, and I want to do it like Carl's (Edwards) doing and that's whenever that opportunity would come, which would be in '07 with the worst-case scenario, being able to run the Busch car and the Cup car. Running both series at the same time would be ideal because at the Cup level you're racing against Tony Stewart and those guys have been racing these cars forever, so any additional track time you can get is a plus. If the trucks were in companion with the Busch cars every week, I would be campaigning to have a truck. I think with the new testing rules going into place next year that I need to be on the track before my main focus, the series that puts the bread on the table."

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Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Jon Wood