Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Snap-on Ford Fusion, knows that in the end, the statistics always even out. In the case of his family’s Sprint Cup race team in the past two weeks, that’s a bad thing. Since going to a part-time status in 2009, the Wood Brothers; despite not having a provisional starting spot to rely on in the event of a qualifying rainout, have qualified for 90-straight races. Then last week at Daytona International Speedway, weather caused qualifying for the Coke Zero 400 to be cancelled, and that meant the Woods and their driver, Ryan Blaney, missed that race. As if last week wasn’t frustrating enough, now more than ever, the old adage “when it rains it pours” couldn’t be more fitting. On Friday at Kentucky Speedway, more rain caused another cancellation, and the No. 21 Ford Fusion, sporting the colors of sponsor Snap-on Tools for the first time ever, was out of the starting line-up again.
“I’ve always heard that numbers always level out and that’s kind of what’s going on,” Wood said. “We’re going to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next, so we’ll head up that way and hope we don’t get rained out. I especially hate it for Snap-on. We were really looking forward to working with them this weekend.” In recent weeks, with rain an issue at Michigan International Speedway three weeks ago, Wood has spent a considerable amount of time studying weather forecasts on his smartphone and getting updates several times an hour. He said that hasn’t helped a bit. “I’m going stop looking at weather apps, I tell you that,” he said. “I’m done as far as that is concerned.”
Wood does take heart in the performance of Blaney and the Wood Brothers team. At Kentucky, they were 16th fastest in a rain-shortened practice session. This is particularly impressive when you realize that the majority of the guys ahead of him had done at least one mock-up qualifying run and they opted to stay in race trim. They had good speed at Daytona as well, posting the ninth fastest lap time, so fast cars are not an issue. “When you’re slow in this garage, it’s just a really bad feeling,” Wood said. “Fortunately now, with our relationship with Team Penske and everything we’ve got going with Ford Motor Company, our cars are really fast. We were fast at Daytona and we were fast here today, so you just look forward knowing every time you go to the next racetrack you’re going to be fast. If it doesn’t rain and you get qualifying in and you make the race, then you’ll forget about the bad days.”
Wood also isn’t complaining about the NASCAR rules that have caused his team to miss the past two races. “The rules are the rules,” he said. “In the event of a rainout they set the field by attempts, which is based on how many races you’ve attempted to race this year. So the ninety-five [of Michael McDowell] and us have attempted fewer races than forty-three other guys, so we’re the ones that are out. But that’s not a new rule. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and then they set the field by the practice speeds. A lot of times people get confused with how it works, but we’ve gone a long time and not missed a race with weather. Missing races, if you’re slow and you miss a race because you’re not fast enough, is a bad deal. That just kills your soul, but you can’t do anything about the weather.”
Blaney and the Wood Brothers will be back at the track next week for the New Hampshire 301 on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.