February 17, 2012 Daytona International Speedway
Trevor Bayne, the defending champion of the Daytona 500, officially kicked off NASCAR’s portion of Daytona Speedweeks by driving the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion along the old beach course en route to Daytona International Speedway. Below are comments from Bayne and co-owners Eddie and Len Wood from today’s press conference.
TREVOR BAYNE – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion — “This is probably the coolest thing I’ve got to do outside of actually racing on other tracks. As a racecar driver you watch races of the beaches and I wish we could come back here and get the groove all rutted up and try to miss the potholes, but this is an unbelievable feeling – being on the beach where it all started. This is history right here. I almost want to bottle up the sand and take it with me because this is where it started for Daytona, this is where it started for NASCAR and I’m just glad to be a part of it. I’m glad I get to be the first driver to do this because this is a really cool tradition. They also told me I get to do some donuts at an intersection a little later on, so I’m pretty pumped about that. The difference is the police are actually leading me this time, instead of following me when I do them. It would be one thing to drive a street car down this beach, but to be in the 21 car and sitting here I feel like I’m a part of history and that’s pretty cool.”
EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion — “We hear stories from our dad almost daily. I think racing on the beach is probably the one thing that our dad is most proud of. He actually sat on the pole here the last race they had in sportsman and I think he wound up finishing third overall and won his division, but we’ve got a picture like that in our shop of him leading the race, but it’s an honor to be here. I’m really a big believer in history and tradition, so this is about the coolest thing I’ve ever done, besides the Daytona 500 last year.”
LEN WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion — WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE RACING ON SAND & ASPHALT NOW? “It would be different. Dad talked about how he would touch the brakes when he was going down the asphalt side to make sure you had brakes at the other end, and up here he could swing it in and the sand would kind of dig in and help slow him down, but he was quite proud of the fact that he ran here six or seven years and never wrecked. He finished every race and he was quite proud of that.”
TREVOR BAYNE CONTINUED — THE SAND SPRAY WAS SO BAD THAT DRIVERS HAD TO STICK THEIR HEAD OUT THE SIDE WINDOW TO SEE WHERE YOU’RE GOING? CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT? “I wondered about that because when we get on Daytona International Speedway now when it’s got just a little bit of sand from the off-season on it and we get out there, we have tear-offs on our windshield and we have to pull those after a couple rounds of practice from that amount of sand sandblasting the windows, so I can’t imagine that. You’d be better off with a screen or something, but I could go Ace Ventura style, hanging my head out the window I guess and try to drive, but I think the thing that would be craziest about racing here is what they were talking about just now — having two totally different corners – not just holding your head out to see past the sand, but you’re coming into the North Turn on sand and you’re going into the South Turn on pavement, so how hard would that be setting up the car? Our crew chiefs think they have to scratch their heads now, I can’t imagine back then.”
WHAT IS YOUR SPEEDWEEKS SCHEDULE? YOU’RE NOT IN THE SHOOTOUT. “No, we won’t be in the Bud Shootout. We’re running part-time this year, so we want to choose races where we can really make them count. The Bud Shootout is a great race and I think it’s an awesome season-opener and I can’t until I get to be a part of it, but our Speedweeks will start with practice and we’ll go to qualifying and then the duels. The duels will be our first race on the track and I guess I’ll be watching the Bud Shootout, I think everybody will, to see how the racing is going to be and what it’s going to come down to, but, either way, it’s racing whether it’s a pack or two cars or a mixture of both, the guy that figures it out the best is the guy that’s gonna win, so that’s what we want to be. We want to figure that out and I’m really looking forward to the duels and qualifying. Hopefully, we make it in on time and we don’t have to race in in the duels and we can get to the 500 and just try to repeat what we did last year. I’ve been trying to get to that same mindset of not trying to win it on the first lap, but just get back to that, ‘make it to the end.’ You can win from 15th with two to go with this kind of racing, so I’m excited about it.”
EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED – HOW GOOD IS YOUR CAR? “We’ve got a brand new car. Obviously, you guys kept our car from last year.” TREVOR INTERJECTS: “We sent some ninjas in to steal it, but they got caught.” EDDIE CONTINUES: “We can’t use it, but this car that we’re gonna have out there actually blew better numbers in the wind tunnel than last year’s car, but everybody’s better. But we’re looking forward to it. We’ve got a really good engine. We’ve really prepared all winter long for this race, so I think it’s gonna be okay. I want to tell a quick story about my dad. He was racing here and it was like ’57, I think, in sportsman cars and he was going down that backstretch over there, which is the pavement, and it caught on fire. He had a fire up on the dash, so he gets out and this gentleman comes out of the palmettos right beside that rattlesnake sign that Brian and Lisa’s grandfather put up, and he had a fire extinguisher. This was in the late fifties and he put the fire out . My dad climbed back in the car, got it going again, and still won the race.” LEN WOOD INTERJECTS: “It was the windshield wiper motor that caught fire, but he tells that story to this day.”