When a rare electrical problem in the early laps of Saturday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway put Bill Elliott and the Wood Brothers racing team hopelessly behind, they did what any race team looking to the future would do. They got back on the track and treated the rest of the race like a test session, working on their No. 21Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion and building team chemistry with new crew chief Donnie Wingo.
When the checkered flag finally fell, Elliott was in 35th, 29 laps in arrears, but upbeat about what he and the Wingo-led team had accomplished. Even though Elliott stayed well clear of the race leaders and Chase contenders, he clicked off some good lap times and was able to work on his communication with Wingo.
“It’s a work in progress,” he said. “This isn’t something you can do in just one race, but we made some good gains.
“We’ll keep swinging at it until we get to where we need to be.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood also was pleased on what could have been a very disappointing night, and for several reasons.
For starters, he enjoyed seeing Elliott running hard and making forward progress on the track, and he was glad to keep his car running until the end because the person who designed the special Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation paint scheme was sitting on top of the pit box.
Carson Luther, the eight-year-old from Wildwood, Mo., whose “Fired Up for a Cure” design was selected as part of a contest presented by Ford’s Customer Service Division’s contest, was the Woods’ special guest for the race. “We wanted to finish the race for Carson,” Wood said. The No. 21 will return to its normal red Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors for its next appearance, in the AAA Texas 500 on Nov. 7 at Texas Motor Speedway.