NASCAR notes: Busy time for Wood family

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

Jon Wood's dance card will be busy over the next few weeks. Wood, 25, is testing his No. 47 Busch car on Monday and Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway with his new crew chief Scott Zipadelli. Next Monday and Tuesday, Wood tests at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to prepare for his Nextel Cup Series debut on March 11 in the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford. The third generation racer will share driving duties with veteran Ken Schrader, who graciously relinquishes his regular seat to pilot the No. 47 Ford at Vegas and Texas. This is the first time in 35 years that the Wood Brothers have fielded two cars in a Cup race. David Pearson and A.J. Foyt drove the Nos. 21 and 41 in the 1972 National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Competition director Michael "Fatback" McSwain will oversee the Vegas test along with Cup crew chief Ernie Cope and R&D coordinator Mike Moore. Moore also takes over as jackman on the No. 21. Expect the Wood Brothers intermediate program to pick up significantly with the addition of chassis guru Eddie Dickerson. The former Hendrick Motorsports director of chassis engineering, who started working for Rick Hendrick in 1986, will concentrate on streamlining the finishing and fabrication systems in the shop. In the last two seasons, Wood Brothers/JTG Racing has expanded to six teams — two squads in NASCAR's top three divisions and development teams in the Weekly Series. With Marcus Ambrose graduating to the Busch Series, at least three and possibly four drivers will play musical chairs in the two Craftsman Truck Series rides, including Kelly Bires, Joey Clanton, Stacy Compton and most likely Mark Martin. Dickerson says the move to the storied organization, "feels like coming home." Speaking of the Woods, the team's patriarch Glen, 81, who founded the organization with his four brothers in 1950, will make his 60th annual trip to Daytona next month. Wood attended 1947 on the beach — the year before NASCAR sanctioned its first race in Daytona.

Testing Sunshine State-style

Jeremy Mayfield was one of several drivers that tested at Daytona for the three days then moved the party up to USA International Speedway at Lakeland, Fla., on Thursday and Friday. The Car of Tomorrow test at Lakeland marked the first time Bill Davis Racing shook down their in-house model on a track. That's quite a contrast from Hendrick Motorsports, which has been testing the COT in earnest since last year. Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears and test driver David Green represented HMS at Lakeland last week along with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard from DEI. BDR will attempt to run three cars at both Daytona and Las Vegas with the trio of Dave Blaney, Mayfield and Mike Skinner behind the wheels. Mayfield had the sportiest engine of the bunch at Daytona testing — definitely the latest and greatest that motor wiz Terry Elledge has to offer. Mayfield is one of the full-time drivers who will have to qualify on time for the first five races, so it's a fair bet that he'll have the most horses under the hood for the 500. Garth Finley and Gary Grossenbacher left the Grand Am Series and joined BDR in the off-season as head engineer and aerodynamicist, respectively.

NMPA's excellent adventure

The National Motorsports Press Association inducted Maurice Petty and Barney Hall into its Hall of Fame last weekend. Petty, the foremost engine builder of his era, started out racing against his father Lee and brother Richard, then created the power that led his sibling to five of his seven championships. Hall, 74, has delivered racing actions to fans via Motor Racing Network since 1974. NMPA named Jimmie Johnson its Richard Petty Driver of the Year and honored the late Benny Parsons with the Pocono Spirit Award.

Long live the King

After Goody's Headache Powders announced that after 30 years together, the company had signed Richard Petty to a lifetime contract, the King addressed the rumors regarding son Kyle. Although the younger Petty has spent the last decade racing for and running the family business, there's been talk of Kyle transitioning to the TNT TV booth this season. "It's up to him how he develops himself," Richard Petty said. When asked whether Petty Enterprises has a younger driver in the wings to replace Kyle in the No. 45, the King added the company was not in a position financially "to do a development deal" and would opt for a "searching deal" for an established driver. Petty would not dismiss grooming a young driver if significant funds were found to take that route.

Back in the saddle again

If John Wayne were reincarnated as a former crew chief, it would be in the form of Buddy Parrott. New fans recognize the Parrott name through the second generation of crew chiefs — Todd at RYR and Brad at Ganassi — but back in the day Buddy was the man at DiGard with D.W. or with Rusty at Penske or with Jeff Burton at Roush Racing. Parrott came out of a four-year retirement to work with Juan Pablo Montoya last year and will now turn his focus to 17-year-old Bryan Clauson. The USAC standout will race the No. 41 Dodge in the final seven races of the Busch Series later this year. Brian Pattie will be on the pitbox.

Tongues will be wagging

KISS will be an associate sponsor on Jeremy Mayfield's No. 36 360 OTC Toyota, so look for Mayfield to talk rockin' and racin' with KISS' Gene Simmons. When asked who had the more talented taster, Mayfield was anything but tongue-tied. "His is longer," Mayfield said. "But mine has more RPM." TMI, Jeremy.

Wedding bells will be ringing

Little did team owner Jeff Wyler know that when he met Jack Sprague not only was he hiring a driver, he was adding a member to his family. In the Wyler's first full-time year of racing, Sprague won two races in the No. 60 Toyota Tundra. Then the three-time Craftsman Truck champ proposed to Wyler's niece Amy Schellenbach. But the real prize will come if Wyler Racing can find sponsorship to add a Nextel Cup team. Under the direction of crew chief Tony Furr, the company has two Car of Tomorrow's built and would like to debut in the Cup race at Bristol in March. Lee Spencer is a senior NASCAR writer for
Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kelly Bires, Ken Schrader, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Mike Skinner, Dave Blaney, Casey Mears, David Green, Joey Clanton, Stacy Compton, Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin

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