As NASCAR Busch Series testing concluded today at Daytona International Speedway, Jon Wood, driver of the No. 47 Ford, took part in an afternoon press conference in the infield media center. Wood, who is scheduled to make his Nextel Cup debut at...
As NASCAR Busch Series testing concluded today at Daytona International Speedway, Jon Wood, driver of the No. 47 Ford, took part in an afternoon press conference in the infield media center. Wood, who is scheduled to make his Nextel Cup debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway later this season, spoke about his upcoming season during the lunch break at today's test session.
JON WOOD-47-Clorox Ford Fusion
YOU WERE FORCED TO MISS THE FIRST DAY OF TESTING WITH FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS. HOW HAS TESTING HAS PROGRESSED FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM, AND WILL THAT DAY MISSED HURT YOU? "I don't think so. It's the same Daytona it's always been, except for when it was on the beach. Missing a day of testing is not a bad thing. I know a lot of guys that wish they could have the flu during Daytona testing because it's kinda going around in circles. Drafting is something that's a lot of fun. We do have a really good car this year; it's amazing. In years past, we really haven't been able to qualify that well. We race very well, but like I said, we didn't quite have the qualifying package. I'm looking forward to coming back and qualifying, and, obviously, racing as well. Daytona has been, for the most part, good to me."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW POINT STRUCTURE WITH THE WINNER RECEIVING FIVE MORE BONUS POINTS? "It helps the winner (laughing). The points system, basically it doesn't matter how you stack the points, the best guy is going to be the champion, and the second best is going to finish second. Obviously, you want to be consistent and consistency does pay off. Tacking on more points for wins or whatever the case maybe does offset the more inconsistent guys that are capable of tossing up wins here and there. For the most part, it's all about consistency."
WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU TEAM STACKS UP IN THE BUSCH SERIES? "Last year was a surprise. The way we finished off the 2005, we were very competitive, as competitive as Carl and a lot of those guys. We started out in the 2006 season the same way. Merging two race teams is about like getting a lobotomy to you. It's not a lot of fun, and I don't even have to do it; I just have to drive the cars. I think that both the Wood Brothers side and the JTG side have done a tremendous effort, and Fatback McSwain and all of the crew chiefs. It's been a struggle, but our cars are getting better and better, and this is the first time that I've been able to not have to put up a PR laugh at Speed Weeks testing and to be able to walk out of here respectably. With that being said, Daytona kinda foreshadows it, 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."
IS CARL THE GUY TO BEAT THIS YEAR IN THE BUSCH SERIES? "He's the guy to beat in gymnastics. 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."
HOW DOES IT FEEL THE JOIN THE RANKS OF THE BUSCHWHACKERS? "I haven't gotten to be one yet. I haven't started my first Cup race, but I'm forward to getting trash-talked about, I guess. I like using the excuse, but I guess I cant anymore. Well, I can for the first couple of races up until Vegas."
WITH ALL OF THE CHANGES TO THE SERIES THIS YEAR, INCLUDING A NEW VENUE, ARE YOU ENTERING THE SEASON WITH CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM? "I'm not going to lie to you, I'm not much of a road racer. I think I was quoted several times with some of my sayings about how ignorant I was when it came to road racing. But, every time you make a right-hand turn in a race car you get better. It just takes experience. Having Marcos Ambrose as a teammate has got to help. I can kinda speak Australian and he can kinda speak English, so between the two, we can communicate and he can explain it to me and maybe I'll be better (joking). I really never road raced. I'm not looking forward to the road course races, period."
WHAT HAS GONE ON WITH CHANGES TO YOUR TEAM IN THE OFF-SEASON? "I'm quite certain that's it's going to be a better year than a year ago. I have a new crew chief, Scott Zipadelli. He 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. He wasn't given the opportunity, so he seized the opportunity now, and fortunately it was with me. For the most part, I've got the same team and the same over-the-wall guys on the pit crew. The major change is crew chief, and there have been a lot of changes in crew chiefs. The Cup car, the one that I'll be driving later on, it has a new crew chief. Fatback is going to kinda step back and oversee everything and make sure, number one, I'm not in trouble and then everything else will fall in place."
TALK ABOUT YOUR NEXTEL CUP SCHEDULE THIS YEAR, AND HOW MUCH OF A MENTORING ROLE WILL KEN SCHRADER PLAY FOR YOU? "Schrader is an easy one to talk to when he doesn't have Swiss Roll in his mouth (joking). He knows a lot. I do look forward to being able to talk sensibly and talk about the same car. It's tough to try to get anything out of him when he's driving a Cup car and I'm driving a Busch car. They're just so different. Obviously, I am going to have to lean on him a bit for advice. You've got 50-plus of the best drivers in the world that are driving these cars, so to be on the same track with them is a huge honor, much less be able to pass one every now and then."
DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE KNOWING THAT MOST PEOPLE CONSIDER YOU THE FUTURE OF WOOD BROTHERS RACING? "I'm going to take the stance that everything goes full circle. I hope it goes full circle. Even when I was back in my mama's belly, the 21 car was still one of the more dominant cars. Dating back to the Pearson era, they were it. Sometimes people make decisions, other teams are formed, things happen and you may get behind. Obviously, the performance of the Wood Brothers organization as a whole isn't what we would really like it to be. With that being said, I think I do have some sort of responsibility and some sort of key role trying to aid them to get back. I'd say they're competitive. It's not embarrassing by any means; it's just that you want to do as best you can. You want to go to each race, and when your car is being unloaded off the hauler, you have other teams looking up under it trying to see where your trackbar is and what springs you've got. You want other people doing that and you don't want to be the guy doing it. I guess to another part of that question, you kinda have to respect a team that's been around for 762 years in racing and still attempted and made every race. That's a huge honor to be a part of and it's also a lot of pressure."
HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT TRYING TO REMAIN PATIENT TO GET TO THIS POINT WHERE YOU CAN NOW DRIVE YOUR FAMILY'S CUP CAR? "Can you see me biting my tongue when you asked about the patience? Yeah, it's tough. I'm what some would call high-strung. But, yeah, I did learn a lot when I drove at Roush, and those guys were a fantastic group to work with. With that being said, I think there's more pressure driving for family than someone else because the worst thing that can happen is you get fired if you drive for another team, but when you mess up for family, it's like getting fired and outcasted and you don't get to come home for dinner, to put it lightly."
YOUR COUSIN KEVEN AND UNCLE LEN WERE HERE FOR ARCA TESTING. IS THERE ANY CHANCE YOU BOTH MIGHT RACE AGAINST EACH OTHER SOME DAY? "The opportunity is there for Keven to get, at least, to the point that I'm at right now, if not further along. We've got trucks, I guess ARCA cars, Busch cars, Cup cars. I think I saw a Late Model at the shop at one point. The resources are there and it's all about capitalizing and wanting it. I think Keven wants it, and I think that his dad thinks that it would be best for him to pursue that kind of career. It would be quite and honor to start side by side with him in a race. I can't say that I'd race him clean, but it'd still be fun (joking)."
HE SAID YOU HAD SOME HEATED GO-KART RACES. "It wasn't about who had the newest go-kart, it was about who knew who could tune them up the best. I would always have stock. My go-kart was straight up, and then I caught wind that he had somebody take the governor off his kart. Then I'd take the governor off my kart, and then we were like Formula One cars in the yard. That was a mess. Anytime you can make a left-hand turn, whether it be in a go-kart, Cup car, whatever, you're learning. You're learning the fundamentals of driving some sort of vehicle, whither it be a race car or street car or whatever. But back to the Keven thing, it does look like we are going to be able to keep it in the family."
-credit: ford racing