Bayne Earns 16th Starting Spot in Intense Qualifying Session at Talladega

_TB40256The new format for knock-out qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway made for some anxious moments, but in the end, Trevor Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick   Lane team wound up with a solid 16th-place starting spot for Sunday’s GEICO 500.

In the opening round of qualifying, Bayne was part of the second group of cars to run against the clock, and the group didn’t leave pit road until more than half of the five-minute session had elapsed.

That meant little time for error as Bayne, crew chief Donnie Wingo and spotter Chip Ross had to decide just when to go so Bayne could catch the draft just right and get a speed that would put them in the starting field.

For team co-owner Eddie Wood and the rest of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team on pit road, the anxiety level was about as high as it gets.

“It was one of the most tense moments I’ve had at a race track in a long, long time,” Wood said. “It’s like when your car is leading on the white flag lap and goes out of sight and you don’t know what’s happening until it comes back into view.”

“But Trevor and Donnie and Chip did a great job. They had to make decisions in split-seconds, and they got them right.”

As Wood pointed out, his Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, like all of its competitors in qualifying, had little control of their own destiny. Bayne’s speed in his session was dependent on the speed of the cars around him, and his overall speed also was determined by how fast his group went in comparison to the other half of the qualifiers, who ran a separate opening session.

“Everybody was at everybody’s mercy,” he said.

Bayne made it into the second round and eventually knocked out, but the primary mission was accomplished, and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will race on Sunday.

“We made the race, and we’ll get after it tomorrow,” Wood said. “It’s a fast car.”

The GEICO 500 is set to get the green flag on Sunday just after 2 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on ESPN.


The Talladega Curse

This week when I was talking to Eddie and Len about old stories that happened at Talladega, the “Talladega Curse” was brought to my attention. I, being a youngster, had no idea about the curse so I decided to dig up some information.

Based on my research, the theory behind the curse has yet to be determined. Is it haunted because a Native American Chief was thrown off his horse and killed during a local horse race on the grounds or that the track was built on an Indian burial ground?

Whatever it is, many many strange things have happened at Talladega. Most of us know all too well of the unfortunate wrecks, deaths and injuries that have occurred at the Superspeedway, which are all believed to be part of the “Talladega Curse”, but I learned some other mysterious events that unfolded.

A fan actually stole the pace car and drove it around the race track before the start of a race!!?? What about the time in 1974 that someone broke into the garage and sabotaged several of the race cars the night before the race. The teams showed up to race and found their cars had been tampered with, including the Wood Brothers. The “sabotagers” had cut the teams’ oil pump and changed the toe-in on the front end. No one ever figured out the guilty party who committed this act but it didn’t stop the Wood Brothers and David Pearson from bringing home a 2nd place finish that day.

I thought this act of sabotage was pretty brilliant, probably not as fun that day but to me it was a classic story, so I asked Leonard if he remembered anything about what happened (see video below).

Let’s hope the curse leaves us alone this weekend!!



Lessons with Leonard Wood – Memories at Talladega

The Wood Brothers will be attempting to make their 400th Superspeedway start this weekend at Talladega and the team couldn’t be more excited to get back to the race track. This past break was the team’s longest stretch of the year without racing and it was painfully LONG. Trust me when I say, that we are working our bums off to find additional funding to break this type of gap up and hopefully add additional races. With that said, can you believe the Wood Brothers could be making their 400th Superspeedway start this weekend? That is an impressive number and a lot of their success came at Talladega, with 6 poles and 5 wins. Three of these wins came with David Pearson behind the wheel, the other 2 with Donnie Allison and Neil Bonnett. Check out the video below to see what Leonard Wood had to say about his memories from Talladega!

~ Jordan

Wood Brothers Set To Make 400th Superspeedway Start

Assuming Trevor Bayne successfully qualifies the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, Sunday’s GEICO 500 will mark the Wood Brothers’ 400th start on a Sprint Cup speedway two miles in length or longer.

-David Pearson & Leonard Wood-Throughout their history, the Woods have focused on NASCAR’s biggest, fastest tracks. And they’ve had some of their biggest successes on them. They have 36 victories on the superspeedways, with more than half of them at Talladega and its sister track, Daytona International Speedway. The Woods have five Talladega wins and 15 at Daytona. The other victories came at Michigan International Speedway, where the team has won 11, at the old Ontario Motor Speedway, where they had three wins, and at Pocono Raceway, where the Woods won twice.

Nine drivers have delivered wins for the Woods on superspeedways with NASCAR Hall of Fame member David Pearson accounting for half of them.

Another Hall of Famer, Cale Yarborough has six superspeedway victories for the Wood Brothers. A.J. Foyt has four and Neil Bonnett three. Hall of Fame member Dale Jarrett has one, as do Tiny Lund, Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker and Trevor Bayne, who got the team’s most recent win in the 2011 Daytona 500.

Success on the big, demanding tracks also helped propel two of the original Wood Brothers, team founder Glen Wood and the team’s long-time crew chief Leonard Wood into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

“Getting to 400 superspeedway starts isn’t just another number,” said Eddie Wood, one of the team’s current co-owners. “It’s something we are proud of.”

Wood also said the number of victories achieved on the bigger tracks means a lot more to him than the starts.

“It shows that our team has performed consistently well on those size tracks,” he said. “We’ve always had more success on the bigger speedways.”

“They just seem to suit us for some reason.”

_DYJ3444Continuing their team’s emphasis on the bigger tracks, the Woods and the current Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew, led by veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo, will head to Talladega with a brand-new Ford Fusion, one that has shown good aerodynamic numbers in the wind tunnel and produced good horsepower on the chassis dyno.

Having a fast car at Talladega isn’t enough to be relatively certain of racing on Sunday.

Since the Woods are without a guaranteed starting spot for the race, Saturday’s knock-out qualifying session will be nerve-wracking.

With the qualifying drivers divided into two groups, and each group having just five minutes on the clock, there will be little room for error.

Drivers will have to get up to speed in a hurry and quickly find a drafting partner to turn a lap fast enough to make the starting field.

“Everyone will be trying to leave pit road as soon as the session starts. It takes close to a minute to get back to the start-finish line to start the clock on your first lap, leaving only enough time for 3 or 4 laps at full speed,” Wood said. “It will be important not to get caught by yourself without a drafting partner.”

Qualifying for the GEICO 400 is set for Saturday at 4:40 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.