For the Woods, a return to Kansas brings back memories of Ricky Rudd’s strong second-place run in 2004 and Jon Wood’s first major NASCAR victory in a Truck Series race in 2003, as his father Eddie Wood watched on TV from the infield of Daytona International Speedway. Later that night, Rudd drove the Motorcraft Ford to a third-place finish at Daytona behind fellow Ford drivers Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton.
“It’s good to be back at Kansas,” Eddie Wood said, adding that he’s always amazed at how much development has occurred around the speedway since it opened in 2001.
“When we first came here there were just a few stores and hotels near the track. Now it’s a whole new city.”
Although it’s been years since the now-retired Rudd drove the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford, Wood vividly recalls that Sunday afternoon at Kansas in 2004.
On the race’s final restart, with 13 laps remaining, Rudd lined up behind Joe Nemechek. But there was a lapped car starting on the inside, as the rules then allowed. It took Rudd several laps to dispatch the lapped driver, but valuable time was lost and he wound up second by a scant .081 seconds.
“We’d been faster than Nemechek all day,” Wood said. “We just couldn’t get to him at the end.”
This time around, Bayne will make his first start at Kansas in the same Ford Fusion he drove in both Michigan races and at Las Vegas.
Crew chief Donnie Wingo expects the race to play out much like the ones at Michigan, which also got a new coat of asphalt this year. Goodyear is bringing the same tire compound to Kansas that was used at Michigan.
“I don’t expect we will change tires that much,” Wingo said. “We’ll just put fuel in it and try to maintain track position.”
Qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 is set for Friday at 5:10 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.