What's next? Wood Brothers ponder life after Trevor Bayne
MAY 24, 2014 5:55p ET
Saturday morning's announcement that Trevor Bayne will join the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full time in 2015 with Roush Fenway Racing raises at least one interesting question: Who will the Wood Brothers tap to fill Bayne's part-time Sprint Cup seat?
Aside from handing over the wheel for one race due to illness in the summer of 2011, Bayne has been the sole driver of the Wood Brothers' lone Sprint Cup entry since 2011 -- the year of his shocking win in the Daytona 500.
With Bayne being promoted from his full-time ride with Roush Fenway Racing's Nationwide Series program to a full-time Sprint Cup ride in 2015, a notable vacancy now exists with the Wood Brothers' acclaimed No. 21 Ford first raced by team founder and NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood in 1953.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood, speaking in the Charlotte Motor Speedway garage on Saturday afternoon, indicated the team hasn't begun a formal search for Bayne's replacement, but added that -- whoever the driver is -- he will likely run a limited schedule as the Wood Brothers have done since 2007.
"(The search) has just kind of started," Wood, who co-owns the organization with father Glen, brother Len and sister Kim, told FOXSports.com. "We'll probably start talking about it sooner than later. I've got to get with Motorcraft, Quick Lane and Ford Motor Company because there's a lot of people involved in our world, so we'll sit down with them and figure out what they want to do next. So we're like, you know, Day One."
Bayne has been part of Roush Fenway's Nationwide Series program since late 2010 and drove his first full Nationwide season for the company in 2013, so Saturday's announcement didn't catch the Wood Brothers -- a fellow Ford team with fewer resources -- off guard.
"He was always under contract with Jack (RFR co-owner Jack Roush) so we knew going in it might be short-term, but we were lucky -- lucky for us, maybe not so lucky for them -- we got to keep Trevor for three-and-a-half years and get to keep him the rest of this year," Wood said. "So it's been really good. It's been a really good relationship and all. Him getting that (Roush Fenway) deal was no surprise. That was the plan all along. It just took a while to do it."
As for the type of driver the Wood brothers and their partners will look to fill Bayne's seat with, Wood could only speculate.
"I don't know," he said. "They may want to go with a younger guy; they may want to go with somebody on the other end of the scale that's in the twilight of their career. We don't know yet. We're just getting started."
Looking back on Bayne's time with the Wood Brothers so far, Wood believes the experience has been a positive one.
"We've had a really good relationship with him and he clicks really well with my team and crew chief Donnie Wingo," he said. "Actually this year -- and we don't have a lot to show for it because we've had other things happen to us -- but as far as speed in the car with Trevor driving the car, this year I think we're running better than we have since he's been here. But we've been together longer, too."
While the Wood Brothers don't know yet who Bayne's successor will be, this much is certain: The team, which has been in racing since 1950 and collected 98 top series NASCAR victories with a host of drivers, isn't going away.
"No, no, no," Wood said. "We've had, I think, over 75 drivers in our car over the years. You move through racing as you move through life, and, no, no, we won't do that."