As the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team and the Wood Brothers race team come to the end of the team’s 65th anniversary season in NASCAR, the future looks as promising as the past has been for the Woods, one of NASCAR’s cornerstone race teams.
With rookie Ryan Blaney at the wheel of the iconic No. 21 Ford Fusion and another Sprint Cup rookie, crew chief Jeremy Bullins, on the pit box, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has been able to parlay its technical alliance with Team Penske into a potent race effort, week-in week-out.
Despite some mechanical issues and weather that caused the team to miss three of its scheduled races, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has been able to put fast Ford Fusions on the track on a regular basis.
Heading into this weekend’s Sprint Cup season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Wood Brothers have run 15 races. In 11 of those races, Blaney has qualified in the top 16, with two top-five and five top-10 starts. He also has nine top-25 finishes, with one top-five finish and two top-10s.
“With Ryan and Jeremy both being rookies and working with us for the first time, it’s just like having a new team,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. “It’s a big step for Ryan and Jeremy to move from the Xfinity Series to Sprint Cup, and they’ve done a really good job. I’m looking forward to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead and to next season.”
Wood said what gives him the most encouragement going forward is seeing the No. 21 on the upper end of the scoreboard during practices and qualifying nearly every time it’s on the track.
“The important thing is that we have speed in the car,” Wood said. “If you have speed, the rest will eventually take care of itself.
“You can’t do anything about the weather, as a lot of teams found out at Phoenix Sunday night, and there are always going to be some mechanical failures in this sport, but you have to have speed, and we’ve had that.”
Wood said his team’s technical alliance with Team Penske has been a big factor in the team’s progress.
“It’s our first year with Team Penske, and it’s all worked out really well,” he said.
The goal now, Wood said, is to close out the season with a good showing for Ford Motor Co. in a race the company sponsors, the Ford EcoBoost 400, the final event in Ford Championship Weekend.
“It’s really important for us to finish the season on a high note,” he said. “We’ve run well all year, but it seems like something weird always keeps us from delivering the results that show the potential that Ryan has and that the team has.
“We’re hoping to put it all together this weekend.”
Qualifying for the Ford EcoBoost 400 is set for Friday at 6:15 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.