For years, the Wood Brothers and Donnie Wingo have been friends and rejoiced in each other’s racing accomplishments.
On Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway they got to celebrate together after Trevor Bayne, driving the Woods’ No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, was third fastest in qualifying for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Wingo, a long-time friend of the Woods, is now the team’s crew chief and is the person responsible for overseeing the preparation of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion.
In his post-qualifying comments, Bayne pointed out that his quick lap was the result of a lot of work by all the people who played a role in preparing his Ford Fusion.
“I can't thank this Wood Brothers team enough and everybody at Ford Racing and Roush Yates for helping us prepare a car like this to bring here,” he said. “The winds were kind of calm, and I think this will show everybody that we've got an awesome race car and they can work with us in these twins coming into Thursday." “Maybe they'll see that and they'll know they can help us out and we can get a good starting spot in the 500."
For team co-owner Eddie Wood the strong qualifying effort is a sign that he and his team are making forward progress with their racing program. “We’ve qualified well at Daytona the past couple of years, and it’s gratifying to come here with a whole new program, a new crew chief and a new car and qualify third,” he said. “And it’s good to be locked into the show for the 500.”
The starting line-up won’t be determined until after Thursday’s 150-mile Gatorade Duels, but Bayne is assured of a starting spot for the Daytona 500.
In qualifying at Daytona, the driver’s main responsibility is to not make a mistake on the track, and the rookie Bayne passed that test with flying colors. The hard part is done by the crew chief and the crew, who put a winter’s worth of work into preparing the best car they can for the Great American Race. “
"Donnie and the guys did a great job,” Wood said, adding that the veteran crew chief has quickly made himself at home with the Wood family and with the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew. “It’s been really satisfying to watch him blend in with this race team,” Wood said. “We’ve been friends for years, and that just makes it all the more special to have him here.”
Bayne also is busy making himself at home, with the Wood Brothers team and with his fellow Sprint Cup drivers. He’s hoping that he can give his car a ride on Sunday that would make David Pearson proud, especially since the car’s paint scheme is in honor of Pearson’s upcoming induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Pearson drove the Woods’ cars to 43 wins and 51 poles in the 1970s. “I think we've got a really stout race car, and [the crew] has done an awesome job all week with it," Bayne said.
The 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifying races are scheduled for Thursday at 2 p.m. with TV coverage on SPEED.The green flag for the Daytona 500 is scheduled to fly just after 1 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 20, with TV coverage on FOX.