Day Three of the Sprint Media Tour concluded with visits by Front Row Motorsports, the Wood Brothers racing team and Team Penske. Team Penske will be addressed with a separate article. It was all a part of Ford Day at the four-day program. Front Row introduced their returning drivers – David Ragan, winner of their first race at Talladega, and David Gilliland, but there was a new face on the stage.
Eric McClure will pilot a Ford Mustang in the Nationwide Series for FRM during the 2014 season. He also will start the 2014 Daytona 500 in the No. 35 Ford Fusion.
“I’ve only recently been cleared to compete so a lot of dominoes are starting to fall into place,” McClure said. “The plan is the Daytona 500 for sure, Speedweeks too, and hopefully we will qualify.” McClure admitted that the Daytona 500 is on his bucket list and his ride will be sponsored by Hefty.
Front Row Motorsports drivers agreed that the new qualifying procedure could benefit small teams.
“I think that we’ve got to continue to evolve our sport based on the fans that we have in the world as it changes,” said Ragan, who drives the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford. “The fundamental parts are always going to be there. You’re going to have 43 cars you’ve got to go and race, and the best guy is going to win. But I’m excited about the upcoming season, the possible changes. I think that it definitely fits into our favor as a smaller team trying to grow in this world. It’s a big benefit if we can be in the Chase, for our sponsors, for our team, for everyone. I think it’s a good thing to help everybody grow.”
Gilliland went a step farther.
“I think they said with David (Ragan) winning at Talladega last year, if the points were the exact same this year, he possibly would have made (the Chase),” Gilliland said. “That’d be a huge shot for Front Row Motorsports, so that’s kind of what we’re focusing on, all the while keeping focus on getting our whole team elevated to run better each and every week.”
Appearing with the Front Row gang was the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team. The Woods’ will once again feature Trevor Bayne in its Ford Fusions for 2014. Only 12 races are scheduled this year, but Ford Racing boss Jamie Allison mentioned that the Woods only needed two wins to reach 100 all-time NASCAR wins and looked at Bayne for approval. “That would be a tall order if we’re only running 12 races.”
Bayne has had his ups and downs on and off the track with Wood Brothers Racing, but through it all, including a Daytona 500 win and being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he’s kept an even keel.
“It is a diagnosis, but to me it has not changed my way of life or any daily activities or anything like that so for me that’s all it has to be right now is a diagnosis,” Bayne said of learning to live with MS. “It changes one thing about your mindset… you appreciate every day and you make the best of it.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood says that with sponsorship, the team could run 15-16 races a year.
“We’d love to do it (more races), but the money just isn’t there,” Wood said. We bought four new cars this year—four intermediate cars and our Daytona car, and that’s about all we can do. We have all the good stuff that Roush has. Donnie Wingo, (crew chief) has all the stuff they’ve learned right on his computer every day. We’re ready to roll, but the sponsors just haven’t stepped up.”