By: Ashley McCubbin
When Jack Wood announced he would be jumping into the No. 21 for GMS Racing in the ARCA Menards Series, everybody was expecting to see top-five’s right away. Instead, though, he has only posted one top-10 through the first three events of the season with a ninth in the opener at Daytona International Speedway.
While admitting it is “big shoes to fill,” Wood is trying to not compare himself to where Sam Mayer began the past two years. After all, Wood enters this program with not a lot of experience previously in ARCA competition, and although the same car, the crew is brand new with Marty Lindley and most of the guys going to Kyle Busch Motorsports.
“Those guys definitely had a lot of success last year so it is big shoes to fill, but my job is to do the best that I can. If that’s winning whether 12 races or winning two, that’s what it’s going to be,” Wood commented. “It’s definitely hard to not compare yourself to these guys. I mean, especially with the people that I am spending time with in the Chevy program as they’re some of the best in the country. It’s hard to not to compare yourself them and especially for me, you just have to use that as a resource and take the positives out of it as you can and learn from those guys, rather than compare yourself to them.”
As he heads to Kansas Speedway, Wood is focusing on himself, hoping to see continued improvement on a weekly basis.
“I think we just have to keep getting better, and we are,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “Everybody is doing what they’re supposed to doing and we’re getting better race to race. I think the goal by the end of the year is to get a couple wins in the books but as long as we keep improving, and at the rate that we’re improving, I think we’re going to get there by the end of the year.”
Fortunately, he will have a lot of experience surrounding him to help along the way through the Driver’s Edge Development Program.
“I mean, it’s huge – it really is huge,” he commented. “I’m so new to the sport compared to some of these guys, just the database that I have to pull from is massive and really expedites my learning curve being young and new to the sport. It’s a huge asset for somebody young and new, and it makes the process a lot easier but also helps having the resources to learn as much as I can.”
The Driver’s Edge Development Program was put together in partnership between Chevrolet, GMS Racing, and JR Motorsports in hopes of having a route for youngsters with the manufacture to build themselves upon. While on-track performance is an asset, they also focus on off-track stuff from seminars about working to the media, to weekly without sessions.
“I think there’s a lot of cool stuff that happens behind the scenes that people don’t know about,” Wood explained. “We get to work with Scott Speed and Josh Wise and basically all the Chevy guys that are in the Driver’s Edge Program. So that’s all the GMS guys, Carson Hocevar, Kyle Larson, (Alex) Bowman, Noah (Gragson), (Ross) Chastain and I know I’m missing people but you get the jest, but there’s people from ARCA all the way up to Cup involved in the Driver’s Edge Program. We do a lot of cycling, working out and then it’s a lot of mental stuff – so reaction time training, race prep, understanding how to deal with different situations in the racecar.
“So my job as a driver isn’t just going to the driver on Saturday and strapping in – it’s Monday to Saturday job to make sure you’re fully prepared. The resources that we get with Josh Wise and Scott Speed, just them alone and their knowledge they have in the different respects of racing they have is such, I can’t even begin to explain how big of a resource that is to someone like me who is so new to the sport. You’re surrounded by one of the best databases in the sport – some of the best and smartest racers that have been around the sport for a long time, so the program is huge.”