Considering his team’s track record at Daytona International Speedway, it’s understandable that veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo would put some extra effort into preparing the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400.
His Wood Brothers team leads all others in points-paying Sprint Cup Series victories at Daytona with 15 overall. The next closest owners are Richard Petty and Rick Hendrick, who have 11 apiece.
The Woods have won the prestigious Daytona 500 five times, most recently in 2011 with Trevor Bayne driving and Wingo as crew chief.
Where the Woods have really excelled over the years is in the 400-miler in July, a race they’ve historically had impressive driver line-ups. Some of NASCAR’s greatest names, like Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Neil Bonnett and Buddy Baker have made history in Wood Brothers cars.
“There’s a lot of history here with this team,” Wingo said. “We always put a lot of emphasis on the cars we bring to Daytona.”
For this year’s race, Wingo has chosen the same Ford Fusion that the team took to Talladega Superspeedway in May but ran only 22 laps before being sidelined by engine issues.
Wingo and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew did a lot more than just dust off their preferred superspeedway car.
“We’ve done a lot of tweaking and tuning on it trying to make it even better,” he said. “It’s been to the wind tunnel twice since Talladega.”
A lot of Wingo’s effort, at the shop and in practice at Daytona prior to the 400, is being focused on perfecting the handling of his team’s Ford Fusion under race conditions, especially since the track is hotter in July than in February and that could cause handling issues even though the track has relatively fresh asphalt.
“With the July heat, the cars can get a little looser,” he said.
Then on Saturday, his goal will be to develop a race strategy that will put Bayne near the front of the pack as the laps wind down.
“If we can be there at the end, hopefully we can do something like we did in the 500 in 2011,” he said.
Qualifying for the Coke Zero 400 is set for Friday at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start on Saturday just after 7:30 p.m. with TV coverage on TNT.