Bill Elliott and the crew of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion battled back from being a lap down to score a 22nd-place finish in Sunday’s Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway, topping off a day that saw the team honored for its legacy of success in NASCAR and at the Michigan track.
Elliott started 30th and maintained a spot on the lead lap until he fell a lap in arrears due to two long stretches of green-flag racing. But when the caution flag flew for an incident between Joey Logano and Ryan Newman with 51 laps to go, the Woods opted to take the wave-around and rejoined the lead lap.
But for the wave-around to be of much help, a team needs the caution flag to fly again fairly soon so they can get fresh tires and fuel since teams that opt for the wave-around can’t make a pit stop during that caution period.
Jeff Gordon’s flat tire and the resulting caution flag provided the No. 21 team that opportunity just six laps later, and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew was able to service their car and send Elliott out with fresh tires and a full tank of fuel for the final run to the checkered flag.
Elliott restarted 25th and drove to 22nd at the checkered flag.
“It was a good day,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “At the end of the race, we were running good lap times, but we just couldn’t get the track position we needed to capitalize.”
Wood said the over-the-wall pit crew had a good day, and Elliott did a good job getting on and off pit road as quickly as possible and without incurring a speeding penalty.
“Bill’s one of the best at getting on and off pit road,” Wood said.
Race day at Michigan started with a ceremony on pit road in which the Wood Brothers were honored with a permanent plaque commemorating the team’s 60 years in NASCAR.
The plaque, on the wall behind Victory Circle, recognizes both the Woods’ contributions to NASCAR and their history at Michigan International Speedway.
The Woods are tied with fellow Ford team owner Jack Roush for the most wins at MIS (11) with three drivers, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Dale Jarrett.
Yarborough won the first NASCAR race at Michigan back in 1969 driving for the Woods, and Dale Jarrett got his first Cup win, also with the Woods, at Michigan in 1991.
“It’s a real honor,” Eddie Wood said. “The only other plaques there are commemorating NASCAR on its 50th year and Richard Petty for his 1,000th start.”
And the fact that the honor came at Michigan made it even more special.
“It’s the home track for Ford Motor Company, and it’s like home for us too,” Wood said.
Elliott and the Woods return to action at another home track of sorts, Atlanta Motor Speedway, on Sept. 5-6. AMS is the home track for Elliott, and it’s also a place where the Woods have scored 12 Cup victories, more than any other team in the track’s 50-year history.