The Brickyard’s A Special Place For The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team

_CH60982As the NASCAR community looks back on 20 years of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, many in the sport say their most memorable experiences are from the inaugural event.

That’s true for Eddie and Len Wood, co-owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. NASCAR’s first trip to the famous Brickyard was their first trip too.

Although their father Glen Wood and uncles Leonard, Delano and Ray Lee hold a major place in Indy lore through their work getting Jim Clark and his Lotus Ford to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500, the younger generation had never seen the place before NASCAR went there in 1994.

“Len and I were too young to go back when our dad and uncles were there,” Eddie Wood said. “And after that we were always busy at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend when the Indy 500 was being run.”

The brothers spent their first moments at the Brickyard back in ’94, more as tourists than race team members. They walked out onto the track, onto the yard of bricks at the start/finish line and stood under the Gasoline Alley sign.

“I took Len’s picture, and he took mine,” Wood said.

The brothers also got to know some of the officials at the track, including some old timers who were working there when the Woods went to Victory Lane in ‘65.

“We learned a lot about things that happened there prior to NASCAR and the stock cars coming there,” Wood said. “One of those officials gave us an original brick from the track. That was pretty special.”
The Woods’ Ford, driven in the inaugural Brickyard 400 by Morgan Shepherd, was pretty special too. He finished 10th in that historic race and backed it up with another 10th in the second running.

_DY50541The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, even after adopting a limited schedule, has kept Indianapolis on its schedule every year.

“It’s one of the most prestigious races we run,” Wood said.

Over the years, seven drivers have driven the No. 21 at Indy, including Michael Waltrip, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Bill Elliott and Trevor Bayne, who has driven the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford the past three years and will be behind the wheel again this weekend.

Qualifying for The Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard is set for Saturday at 2:10 p.m. eastern, and the green flag is scheduled for just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.

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Early Wreck Ruins Bayne’s Run At Daytona

_DY50779For Trevor Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, the rain-delayed, rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 wound up being a missed opportunity.  In the opening laps on Sunday morning, Bayne had driven from his 25th starting spot into the top 10 and was heading to a NASCAR-mandated competition caution on Lap 20 when a wreck began unfolding in front of him.

“I feel like we were just starting the race,” he said. “The first thing I saw was the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) coming across in front of us, and I was already past the pit road entry and couldn’t turn down there.

“I slowed down enough, but four or five cars hit us from behind and sent us up the race track and we hit the outside wall.”

_DY50798The Donnie Wingo-led Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew repaired their Ford Fusion and put Bayne back on the track, although numerous laps behind the leaders. Still, he was in position to regain many of the lost positions when the rains returned and the race was called 48 laps shy of the scheduled distance, leaving him with a 38th-place finish.

Bayne said the setback was especially tough, given the speed his No. 21 Ford Fusion typically has on the restrictor-plate tracks at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway.

“It is a terrible way to end our day for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion when you feel like you have a shot to win these races and know you are really good here,” he said. “It is disheartening for these guys…..

“The only thing we come here for are the top-fives and wins, and this is not what we wanted.”

The good news on an otherwise disappointing day for the Wood Brothers team was seeing their long-time friends, the Petty family, celebrating in Victory   Lane with their No. 43 Ford Fusion.

“We’re really happy for Richard, Dale, Aric and the rest of the team,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “It was a big day for the sport as a whole to have the 43 car in Victory Lane at Daytona on the 30th anniversary of Richard’s 200th win and on the day that our good friend Barney Hall retired from the MRN broadcast booth.”

The Woods and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to the track in three weeks for the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27.

Bayne Qualifies 25th For the Coke Zero 400 At Daytona

Sm_DY50127Trevor Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will line up for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway from the 25th starting position. Bayne turned a lap at 197.994 miles per hour in the opening round of Friday’s knock-out qualifying session but did not advance to the final two rounds, which wound up being rained out.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that the key to a fast lap in knock-out qualifying on a restrictor-plate track like Daytona is to catch a pack of cars just ahead of  you. But that perfect timing is very difficult to achieve.

“Everybody has a plan, and everybody’s trying to outguess each other,” he said. “You need to catch a group of cars with a couple of them two wide, but as time was running out in the first session people had to go and the speeds weren’t what everyone expected.”

Sm_DY41851Indeed, the pole speed turned by the No. 38 Ford Fusion of David Gilliland, 199.322 mph, was more than a mile per hour slower than Bayne’s best lap in Friday’s practice session. He posted the 13th fastest lap on Friday with a speed of 200.553 mph.

Rain has been one of the bigger stories at Daytona this week as both Sprint Cup qualifying and one practice session were impacted by the showers that tend to pop up often at the track just off the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wood said he’s not too concerned as the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion has shown plenty of speed when it was on the track in race trim.

“We feel really good about the race,” he said.

The Coke Zero 400 is set to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on TNT.

Woods Recall Summertime Success At Daytona

P-WB1-469When most NASCAR fans think of the Wood Brothers and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team and racing at Daytona International Speedway, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the team’s five victories in the Daytona 500.

But the Woods actually have had more success in the summertime, winning 10 races on the July 4th weekend, making team founder Glen Wood the all-time leader in car owner victories in points-paying Cup races at Daytona, with a total of 15.

Many times, the Woods rolled their Fords into Daytona’s Victory Lane on the strength of dominating performances while other times luck played a hand. Sometimes a July win made up for the disappointment of a lost opportunity to win the Great American Race in February. The 1983 Firecracker 400 was one of those races. Buddy Baker, a current nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was driving the No. 21 Ford, which was the team’s first of the then-new aerodynamically sleek Thunderbirds that came to rule the superspeedways for most of the 1980′s.

Baker had driven that same car in the ’83 Daytona 500. He led 35 laps and was poised to win, only to lose the lead to eventual winner Cale Yarborough on the last lap of the race and eventually finishing third behind Bill Elliott.

Then in July, it was Terry Labonte that dominated the race only to run out of gas coming to the white flag. Baker assumed the lead, and his No. 21 Ford also ran dry but not before he crossed the finish line to claim his 19th career Cup victory, which wound up being the final triumph of his career.

For team co-owner Eddie Wood, that ’83 win was special for several reasons.

“For one, it was the first race we won for Ford in the new model Thunderbird,” Wood said.

And it seemed overdue to the Woods, who built the car on a new Banjo Matthews chassis and unloaded it with lots of speed when they first arrived at Daytona that February.

“That car led the 125 miler, and we lost it to Dale Earnhardt, who at that time was driving a Thunderbird.” Wood said. “And in the Busch Clash it was fast but got wrecked on the last lap. To finally win one here in Daytona with it was really special.”

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team returns to Daytona this week to try for its 16th win, and it’ll be the team’s most recent Daytona winner, 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, at the wheel of the No. 21 Ford Fusion.

Qualifying for the 56th annual Coke Zero 400 is set for Friday at 5:10 p.m, and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on TNT.