Wood Brothers Racing announced last week that Donnie Wingo was coming on board to replace David Hyder as crew chief on the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion. This weekend marks the first for Wingo and driver Bill Elliott, who also has a new paint scheme benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Co-owner Eddie Wood and Wingo spoke about joining forces with each other and JDRF.
EDDIE WOOD, Co-Owner – No. 21 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ford Fusion – HOW DO THINGS SEEM TO BE WORKING WITH DONNIE AND BILL SO FAR? “So far everything has gone really well. Throwing Bill into a new environment with a new race car and a new crew chief, and having to make qualifying runs right off the bat is asking someone quite a bit, but he stepped up and we got in the show with no problem. Today, he can kind of get acquainted with Donnie and get acquainted with the race car because yesterday everything was qualifying runs. You make one run and then you’ve got to go do it again and you don’t really get to feel things out, so now we’ll make some long runs this afternoon and I think we’ll be just fine.”
IT’S ONLY BEEN A WEEK, BUT HOW HAS DONNIE WINGO FIT IN SO FAR? “He’s been over to the shop every day and it’s pretty much been business as usual. Donnie fits in really well with us. He comes from kind of the same background as we do and it’s working. I’m really happy with things so far.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL THIS JDRF PROGRAM HAS GONE? “The really cool thing is we got in the race with Carson Luther’s new paint scheme on the JDRF Fusion and hopefully we’ll be able to raise a lot of awareness for Juvenile Diabetes Research and raise a lot of money for those kids. It’s really a neat program because it lasts for quite a while and they start sending in those paints schemes, so it’s something you have to keep up with daily. It’s pretty interesting and the paint schemes that those kids send in, it was a really hard decision picking one out because they all looked good. I couldn’t draw one. I’m not very good at matching colors that stand out on things, but Carson came up with the blue and he said he wanted some flames, and he thought an orange number looked good on the blue. He had a lot of real logic behind it and I thought he was a pretty impressive kid.”
FLAMES ALWAYS SEEM TO BE ON RACE CARS. HOW MANY ENTRIES SEEMED TO HAVE FLAMES? “There were a lot of flames, but flames go all the way back to the George Barris days. I don’t know who started it, but you can look at some of those old, old movies with nice-looking hot rods and they all had flames. I can remember model cars I had when I was a kid and the decal pack always had a version with flames, so flames are cool.”
DONNIE WINGO, Crew Chief – No. 21 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING AN OPPORTUNITY TO WORK WITH BILL ELLIOTT? “I’m looking forward to it.
This all kind of came together quickly, but everybody has done a good job of putting everything together and getting the cars ready so we can get going. It wasn’t what we wanted for qualifying, for sure, but we’ve still got the race. We’re gonna work hard on that in these two practice sessions and see what we can do tomorrow night.”
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR YOU GOING FROM A TEAM THAT RAN EVERY WEEK TO ONE THAT DOESN’T? “I think the biggest thing is getting Bill back in a rhythm. He said that a lot yesterday and hopefully today we can get some 10 and 15-lap runs in so he can get a good feel for what he’s got and what direction we need to go.”
AS FAR AS EXPECTATIONS BETWEEN NOW AND THE END OF THE YEAR? “The biggest thing I think is that I don’t think he’s had any issues qualifying at all this year, although this weekend was close, but I think the biggest thing is from a racing standpoint. We’ve got to get better in the race and get better finishes. What we’re focusing on right now is just getting a good car for him to race.”