Nick Kroplin, a fifteen year old from Dayton, Ohio, and an avid Bill Elliott fan, sent the Wood Brothers an uplifting letter this week. He stated that he recently became a Wood Brothers’ fan after watching his favorite driver, Bill Elliott, drive for the team. Along with his letter he included a penny with the following post script:
“I have never believed in luck, but a lot of Cup drivers and teams do today. So I have included a ‘lucky penny’. It sounds really silly, but it does have some significance. I found it the night before the Homestead race last year, and the very next day, Bill had his best finish of the season. And it just so happens to have the year 1985 on it, the year Bill set the competition on fire.”
After receiving the letter, Team co-owner Eddie Wood said, “When you’ve been in the business as long as we have, you take nothing for granted. It is really cool to see a new, young fan supporting us. As far as the penny is concerned, we’re putting it on the dash of the car. We can use all the good luck we can get. If the penny helped at Homestead, maybe it will help us in Texas.”
The #21 Motorcraft sponsored Ford Fusion will be making its seventeenth appearance this weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway. In sixteen prior starts, the Team earned four top ten finishes. The Team’s best finish came in 2005 with Ricky Rudd behind the wheel. Rudd started the 2005 race fourth and finished 8th. Bill Elliott will be making his fourteenth appearance at the Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Bill’s best start and finish came in 2002 when he earned the pole and finished ninth.
While many fans are familiar with the Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR hasn’t always run the Texas race at its current site. Before NASCAR Cup Series teams began racing at the Texas Motor Speedway in 1997, there was another speedway, located in College Station, Texas, that hosted eight NASCAR events from 1969 to 1981 - the Texas World Speedway. The Texas World Speedway was a 2 mile superspeedway closely resembling Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
The Wood Brothers competed in two of the 8 races held there. In 1969, Cale Yarborough qualified the Wood Brothers’ #21 Mercury fourth. However, an accident brought the team a 25th place finish. The #21 had better luck in 1972 with A.J. Foyt behind the wheel.
In November of 1972, NASCAR Cup teams rolled into College Station for the Texas 500. Foyt qualified the Wood Brothers’ 1971 Mercury on the pole. The event became a three driver race between Buddy Baker, A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty. The three battled each other all day. On lap 229 Baker passed Petty on what many thought was the pass for the win. But Foyt had other plans. On the last lap, Foyt passed Baker - but only momentarily. Baker’s car exhibited an incredible burst of speed, re-passing Foyt and taking the checkered flag. Foyt finished one-half car length behind Baker in second followed by Petty. Petty’s third place finish was enough to give him the 1972 Championship.