BUSCH: Daytona Preseason Thunder, day 5 report

Wood You Believe? 2007 Could Be Turnaround Year For Wood Bros./JTG Racing * Wimmer's Experience Lends Confidence To RCR's Owner Title Defense * Thundering West: Teams Head To Las Vegas Motor Speedway For Test Feb. 5-6 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla....

Wood You Believe? 2007 Could Be Turnaround Year For Wood Bros./JTG Racing

* Wimmer's Experience Lends Confidence To RCR's Owner Title Defense

* Thundering West: Teams Head To Las Vegas Motor Speedway For Test Feb. 5-6

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 23, 2007) -- Missing nearly a day and a half of testing during the first two days of the second session of NASCAR Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway didn't seem to faze Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/Armor All/American Red Cross Ford).

Wood was battling flu-like symptoms last Sunday, the first day of the second test session, and was unable to participate. His new Wood Brothers/JTG Racing teammate Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) shook down the No. 47 instead.

In better health Monday, Wood lost more time due to two rain delays that gobbled up four hours of testing. But not before he posted the day's fastest time in the shortened afternoon drafting session (48.422 seconds/185.866 mph).

"It's the same Daytona it's always been, except for racing on the beach," Wood said. "Daytona kind of foreshadows it (the remainder of the season) and it gives you a prediction of what you have to face in the upcoming races the first of the season.

"I do have a sense of optimism and nervous anticipation as well."

Wood Brothers/JTG Racing is in its second full season as an organization following its merger one year ago. Many of the kinks have been worked out and stability is now the order of the day. Wood and Ambrose are learning about each other as teammates and Wood is excited to work with new crew chief Scott Zipadelli.

Wood finished 14th in the final standings last year while his teammate Stacy Compton was 16th. "I'm quite certain (2007 is) going to be a better year than a year ago," Wood said. "(Zipadelli) is a huge wealth of knowledge. The guy comes from one of the top-notch teams in NASCAR and he's done his homework and he's ready to be a crew chief. Having Marcos Ambrose as a (new) teammate has got to help.

"The way we finished off 2005, we were very competitive. We started out the 2006 season the same way. I think that both the Wood Brothers side and the JTG side have (put forth) a tremendous effort. It's been a struggle, but our cars are getting better and better."


Pit Stops: Around The Daytona Garage

RCR Up For Title Defense Challenge ... Richard Childress Racing may not have a full-time driver in the NASCAR Busch Series this season to defend its driver championship, but defending its owner title is another story. The No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet will be shared by Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer and the team's crew chief, Pat Smith, sounds confident about the season.

"I think there is an added pressure to defend RCR's NASCAR Busch Series championship, but pressure is what you make of it," Smith said. "Scott Wimmer has been great during the testing at Daytona. His experience is obvious with the great feedback that we have received from him over the past few days. (Our) Busch Series program has always been a contender at Daytona and we don't expect anything less next month. I have every confidence in Scott's ability to win here in February."


Teams Head To Las Vegas For Next Round Of Testing ... Tuesday's final day of superspeedway testing at Daytona also completed the first of four scheduled tests for the NASCAR Busch Series in 2007.

"It looks like we have a really good mix of different cars on different days being on top of the leader board," said Joe Balash, NASCAR Busch Series director. "I expect when we come back down for our event in February we'll have a good mix of cars running up front."

Next up is Las Vegas Motor Speedway from Feb. 5-6 with a rain day scheduled for Feb. 7. All teams can use the two days for the test session at the 1.5-mile track.

"The teams will have the opportunity to test a different style of car versus what we have been doing down here in Daytona with the speedway cars," Balash said. "Everybody is pretty excited to see the new changes at Las Vegas and we're looking forward to testing there."

The turns at LVMS have changed from 12-degree banking to 20 degrees offering more side-by-side racing.


Three Times The Excitement On Feb. 17? ... When the NASCAR Busch Series returns to Daytona for the season-opening Orbitz 300 on Feb. 17, Tony Stewart (No. 33 Old Spice Chevrolet) is scheduled to seek a third straight victory in the event for Kevin Harvick Inc. The 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion has posted the last two season-opening victories for the team co-owned by Kevin and DeLana Harvick -- in 2005 and '06. If he can pull off the three-peat, he would join the Earnhardts -- Dale Sr. and Dale Jr. -- as the only drivers to win three consecutive season-opening NASCAR Busch Series races. Earnhardt Sr. holds the record with five in a row from 1990-94 while Earnhardt Jr. won three straight from 2002-04.


What Can't This Guy Do? ... Carl Edwards (No. 60 Scotts Ford) has been labeled as the favorite to capture the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series title by many of his fellow competitors. Jon Wood believes Edwards should be named a favorite in more activities than racing.

"He's the guy to beat in gymnastics," Wood said. "He's the guy to beat in racing, flying airplanes, whatever. He's the best and you've got to respect a guy that has that type of determination and dedication for what he likes to do."


Final Day Lap Leaders ... For the second consecutive day, Ward Burton (No. 27B Kleenex Ford) topped the speed chart during the morning test session, turning a fast lap of 48.971 seconds/183.782 mph. Jamie McMurray (No. 37A Yard-Man Ford) had the overall fast time for all five single-car test sessions, registering 48.855 seconds/184.219 mph last Sunday. Kyle Busch (No. 5B Sta-Green/Spectracide/Delphi Chevrolet) also was the fastest overall through Monday's afternoon drafting session, registering 47.893 seconds/187.919 mph.

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Kevin Harvick , Jon Wood , Jamie McMurray , Marcos Ambrose , Scott Wimmer , Carl Edwards , DeLana Harvick , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing