Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are headed to Darlington Raceway for Sunday’s Labor Day weekend classic with Jeremy Bullins back as crew chief and long-time crew member and friend William “Jabo” Fulp being honored with his name above the right door of the No. 21 Mustang.
Bullins, who got his racing start with the Wood Brothers and served as crew chief of the No. 21 from 2015-2017, is returning to the team from the No. 2 car at Team Penske having swapped jobs with Brian Wilson, who led the No. 21 team for the past two seasons. Wilson is taking over Bullins’ old post.
“First of all I’m excited to be back with the Wood Brothers and the iconic 21 car,” Bullins said. “It always feels like home for me, being where I got my start in the sport.
“Obviously none of us have had the season we were hoping for but I’m confident we can hit the reset button and use these last 10 races as a head start on the future.”
Bullins helped deliver the Woods their 99th Cup win, at Pocono Raceway in 2017, and hopes to help them add at least one more.
“One of my biggest disappointments was that we never got that 100th win for the Wood Brothers,” he said. “We will do our best to make that happen.”
Fulp, who has been working with the Woods for more than 25 years, also owns a wrecker service and initially was called on numerous times by the team to move cars, including the No. 21.
He was the one the Woods called when Neil Bonnett wrecked at Daytona in 1989 and the team needed a back-up hauled to Daytona in a hurry.
Eventually he became a full-time team employee, handling a variety of duties, before retiring from his full-time position.
“He’s a common-sense guy,” Eddie Wood said. “If we have an impossible job, we call Jabo.”
When Eddie’s son Jon Wood started his driving career, his dad often was away tending to the No. 21 Ford.
Jabo was the one who hauled Jon Wood’s race cars all over the Southeast. But, as Jon attests, he was much more than just a hauler driver. He was like a father and best friend rolled into one.
“Jabo acted as a fill-in father type role during my early racing days,” Wood said, adding that Jabo also came to the rescue when he wound up in a ditch somewhere after an episode of horseplay. “Jabo is that guy you can call with any sort of problem, utter the words ‘Uh, Jabo, you ain’t gonna believe this one.’
“He laughs and says, ‘OK, I’ll be right there, say no more.’
“He really did act as a sort of father-type figure for me for quite a number of years. I was racing, and in those days it was a fairly demanding schedule. My dad couldn’t be there most of the time, so it was basically up to Jabo to fill in and make sure i did what i was supposed to, but more importantly that I didn’t do what I wasn’t supposed to.
“And he did a fine job at both.”
As Jon’s aunt Kim Wood Hall said in nominating Jabo for recognition at Darlington: “He started out as a family friend, but became more like family instead.”
Practice for the Labor Day Weekend at Darlington Presented by Crown Royal is set for Saturday at 12:35 p.m. Eastern Time and will be followed by qualifying at 1:20.
Sunday’s 367-lap, Southern 500 is set to get the green flag just after 6 p.m. Stage breaks are planned for Laps 115 and 230.
USA Network will carry the TV coverage all weekend.