Author Archives: Jordan Wood

Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Ready To Get Back To Work At Bristol

12993513_10153845104713145_5396457336836125857_nFresh from an Easter weekend off, Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford team head to Bristol Motor Speedway where they hope to continue the pace they’ve set in first seven races of the 2017 season. To date, Blaney and the No. 21 Ford Fusion have a runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and two more top-10 finishes, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway. They have two front-row starts, at Phoenix Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway, two stage wins and 150 laps led. They’ve never been out of the top 10 in the Cup standings and head to Bristol in sixth position.

“After a weekend off, there’s no better place to get back to racing than Bristol,” crew chief Jeremy Bullins said. “You always know you’re in for an exciting weekend, and we are certainly ready to go with the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford.

“I feel like Bristol is another track on the schedule where we have enough experience as a team to be a real contender this weekend.  It’s a place Ryan and I won at with the Xfinity program, and I feel like we’ve gotten stronger each time we go.”

Blaney finished 11th in the Food City 500 last spring, and qualified fourth for last year’s night race in August and raced as high as second place before being collected in a multi-car crash.

And Bullins said that while the intermediate-length, mile-and-a-half tracks and the superspeedways are where the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has enjoyed its most success, he believes the team’s short-track program is coming right along. He pointed out that Blaney qualified seventh in his most recent race on the half mile at Martinsville and was fast in the early portions of the race, earning 10 championship points by being among the top 10 after each of that race’s first two stages.

“I think the speed we had at Martinsville shows the effort that goes into the short-track cars, and even though the tracks couldn’t be more different I feel like our car will be just as fast at Bristol,” he said. “I know everyone is rested up and ready to get back to racing this weekend.”

Qualifying for the Food City 500 is set for Friday at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney Scores Two Stage Wins, Leads The Most Laps at Texas

a625c3bbae2db2c68dadd60f986be9ed-1Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team showed Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway that despite a disappointing 12th-place finish they’re capable of being a major player in NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series.

Blaney, starting from the outside pole, bolted into the lead for the first time after just 15 laps and went on to dominate not only the first 85-lap Stage but the second Stage as well.

Blaney’s 148 laps led were the most of any driver in Sunday’s race and by far the most of his 61-race career as he had led just 33 laps heading into Sunday’s race.

By winning both stages, Blaney earned two playoff points, the first of his career, and his 20 points earned in the first two stages pushed his total for the day to 45, which propelled him from seventh to sixth in the Cup standings.

But despite the successes of the first half of the race, the second half didn’t play out as planned for Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. His pit stop at the end of the second stage put him in 20th place for the restart, and he became entangled in a group of slower cars and lost ground that he was never able to regain.

“We got jumbled up in [turns one and two] and let a lot of cars get by,” Blaney said. “That was kind of the deciding factor I feel like.”

Blaney also expressed his support of crew chief Jeremy Bullins’ decision to stay on the track, with the lead, when a caution flag flew late in Stage Two, even though it meant that he eventually would have to restart in mid-pack after a pit stop.

“I thought we made the right call to stay out there and try to win that segment,” he said. “I’m for that.”

Blaney’s path forward also was hindered by a run-in on the track with the lapped car of Corey LaJoie and by a late pit stop that went bad when he initially drove over the boundary line of his pit stall and lost some time.

But for team co-owner Eddie Wood, the takeaways from the day were overwhelmingly positive, and he had great praise for Blaney and Bullins.

“Jeremy gave us a really, really fast race car,” Wood said. “He’s consistently done that, and that’s huge when you look at how many 1.5 mile tracks like Texas are coming up on the schedule. And Ryan drove a heck of a race”.

“We just weren’t able to finish it off, but we’re getting closer.”

“It’s coming.”

2defb0e6344d355ac8f46db34cce9a58-1Even though he also was disappointed by the late-race turn of events, Blaney, like Wood, was looking at the Texas trip as a sign of good things to come for him and his team.

“I think it says a lot about this Motorcraft/Quick Lane team about how good a car we had today,” he said. “If you had asked me yesterday I wouldn’t have said we would win two stages and have one of the fastest cars.”

“They made really good changes this morning, and that definitely says a lot. I am excited to get to Bristol in a couple weeks and see what we can do.”

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will be idle next weekend for Easter then return to work the following weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Fast Lap At Texas Earns Blaney His Second Front-Row Start of 2017

b72aecf50c91128d206e094a02f5e112-1Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are set for their second front-row start of the 2017 season after Blaney secured the outside pole with a lap at 198.020 miles per hour on a repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway.

Blaney, who also started on the outside pole at Phoenix, has three top-three qualifying runs this season, including a third-place effort at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Friday was a banner day for Ford at Texas as Blaney’s Ford teammate Kevin Harvick won the pole, with fellow Ford drivers Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski all taking the top-five starting spots.

Ford also won the opening practice round with Blaney setting the pace with a best lap of 194.182 mph.

Once qualifying started, Blaney was sixth fastest in the first round with a lap at 194.419 mph. He was fifth in Round Two with a lap at 196.657 mph before finishing second in the third and final round despite a significant jump in speed from the second round.

Blaney said afterwards that he should have raised the track bar on the backstretch on his final lap to keep his car from being tight in Turns Three and Four, but otherwise it was a great day for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.

a04949a2a88df64401b2b605c2dc36ed-1“We got better each round which is always encouraging, always what you want,” he said. “You never want to get worse or make the wrong adjustments. I feel this year we’ve gotten better going round by round.

“Man, I heard that they give you a shotgun when you win the pole here. I saw my lap and thought that might do it but Kevin (Harvick) just snuck by us.”

Even though he failed to earn a firearm on Friday, Blaney is optimistic about his chances in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

“I think I have a really fast Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion,” he said. “It was even good in race trim today. The track has come a long way in a few hours and hopefully it will widen out even more for the Xfinity race tomorrow and for our practices.

“Not a bad start to the weekend.”

Sunday’s 500-miler is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (1:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Up To Challenge Of Reconfigured Texas Track

13010814_10153829096603145_3155554874037681906_nRyan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team face a new challenge this weekend as they prepare to race on a repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway.

When NASCAR teams arrive at Texas this week they’ll see for the first time a Texas track with less banking in Turns One and Two. The banking in those turns has been decreased from 24 degrees to 20, while Turns Three and Four remain at 24 degrees. There also will be an extra 20 feet of racing surface in Turns One and Two, pushing the total to 80 feet.

The track also installed a new drainage system, which is intended to speed up track drying in the event of rain.

Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, is optimistic that he and Blaney can adapt quickly to a layout they’ve never seen before.

“I’m really excited to get to Texas,” Bullins said. “If you look at our best tracks, the fast intermediates that have most recently repaved are often great tracks for us.

“This week will be a challenge with the reconfigured banking and not having tested there.

However, one thing that makes me feel confident is how well we ran at Kentucky last year, with a similar aero package and also a track that was reconfigured to have different banking in the turns. I feel like we can learn a lot from what we did there as we had a lot of speed.”

At Kentucky last year, Blaney started 15th when rain washed out qualifying but raced his way into the top five before being collected in a crash.

Bullins also said his team’s performance so far this year gives him more reasons to be optimistic heading into Texas. Blaney and the Wood Brothers are seventh in the Cup standings after the first six races with three top-10 finishes and an average finish of 14th.

“So far, 2017 has been a good season for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion,” Bullins said.

“Some of the results may not show it, but we’ve been fast every week.”

He said that while the final result from the most recent race at Martinsville was disappointing, there were encouraging signs.

“After running in the top five and ending the second segment in fifth, we took the time to fix some damage and that got us in the back and we got torn up again,” Bullins said. “While we were disappointed, to have a car that competitive in Ryan’s third race there bodes well for the Chase race there in the fall.

“I feel like he did a great job of figuring out how to get around there very quickly.”

Qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas is set for Friday at 5:15 p.m. (6:15 Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (1:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.

Blaney Finishes 25th On Fender-Banging Day At Martinsville

9aa137a942d342ade46bb0bde93ff058-1A strong start to Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway by Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team began to unravel just past the halfway mark when Blaney was collected in a couple of crashes that left him mired two laps down and ended with a disappointing 25th place finish.

The finish was no indication of the early speed shown by Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. After starting seventh, Blaney worked his way into the top five and was running fourth when the first caution flag flew. A problem with a lug nut stuck in the wrench’s socket dropped him to 20th on the next restart, but he soon worked his way forward and finished the first 130-lap Stage in seventh place.

Despite concerns about a tire rub in Stage Two, Blaney ran in the top five throughout the segment before finishing fifth, thereby earning 10 championship points for the two segments. He now has earned 41 stage points for the season, sixth best among Cup drivers.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew used the caution period after the second stage to make sure there was no body damage that might damage a tire, and he returned to the track in 15th position.

But he was collected in a crash at Lap 290 that damaged the No. 21 Ford Fusion and put him down one lap to the leaders.

A second incident just after the restart caused more damage, and the ensuing unscheduled pit stop trapped him two laps behind the leaders.
With the race playing out so that there wasn’t a realistic opportunity to regain lost laps, Blaney soldiered home 25th behind race winner and Ford teammate Brad Keselowski.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he was proud of the way his young driver drove his way into the lead pack and held his own against some of NASCAR’s best drivers at Martinsville.

“Ryan did a great job in the first two stages, staying in the top ten and getting those extra stage points.” Wood said. “But once we got caught up that crash and had to pit under green to repair damage, our day didn’t turn out like we hoped.

2b0a54652c6c10aba48a874d9cfcb28e-1 The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team didn’t leave Martinsville empty handed. Prior to the race, the Wood Brothers received the Clay Earles Award from the speedway. The award, named for the late track founder and presented by his grandson and current track president Clay Campbell, was accepted by Glen, Leonard, Eddie and Len Wood.

“It was a great honor to receive that award,” Glen Wood said. “Clay Earles’ family and our family have meant a lot to each other over the years.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, who remain in seventh place in the driver and owner standings, will return to the track next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Rainy Friday Means Blaney Will Start Seventh At Martinsville

f60e28532b3f731a7c00f5d56a7e1870-1Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will be among the insiders when the green flag drops on Sunday to start the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

When rains washed out qualifying on Friday, the starting field for Sunday was set based on the current points standings, which means Blaney will start seventh, on the preferred inside lane.

On Martinsville’s tight, half-mile oval, drivers on the inside for starts and restarts have an advantage over those starting on the outside, as the inside groove is the fast way around.

Blaney and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane teammates also believe they have a Ford Fusion fast enough to capitalize on both a preferred starting spot and one of the better pit stalls, as teams at the top of the starting order get the first picks on pit stalls.

124eb051aa7a889231b14273eabef756-1 In Friday’s practice session, Blaney and his crew worked on both qualifying and race trim. His best lap at 94.822 miles per hour was seventh best on the speed chart.

“Ryan and the team practiced really well in both race and qualifying trim,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “We’ll practice again tomorrow and know more about where we are, but it’ll certainly be a big help to be starting on the inside here at Martinsville.”

In an earlier media session at Martinsville, Blaney talked about how important it is to start up front at that track.

“I think the biggest thing here is qualifying up front to make sure you’re up front at the beginning of the race and try and stay there,” he said. “That’s where it’s the cleanest and away from trouble. That’s something that we’ve put a big emphasis on, trying to qualify up front at this place, so you’re not mid-pack; that’s where things go down.

“That’s half the battle here.”

The STP 500 is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. Sunday with TV coverage on FoxSports 1.

Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Gearing Up For Historic Martinsville Speedway

12417755_10153812726493145_3974665376011691663_nFor Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, this weekend’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway is all about the three Hs – home, history and hot dogs.

Martinsville Speedway is the home track for the Wood Brothers team, which has its roots in nearby Stuart, Va., just a 28-mile ride down U.S. 220 from the track.

The track also is just a short 45-minute drive from High Point, N.C., where driver Ryan Blaney grew up.

And it’s also the home track for the team’s crew chief Jeremy Bullins, who grew up a half-hour away in Walnut Grove, N.C.

Then there’s the history of the track, now celebrating its 70th anniversary. Martinsville is the only track that has been on the Cup schedule since the start of NASCAR. Although the original dirt surface was paved in 1955, the layout of the track remains basically the same.

“The track is the same size and shape as it was in the beginning,” Wood said. “The grandstands are modern, but they’re in the same place the original ones were. The only major change is they moved the railroad tracks further away from they backstretch.”

The Woods have been a big part of Martinsville history over the years, as the team has competed in a variety of NASCAR divisions at the track, including the Cup series.

Two of the original members of the Wood Brothers team, Glen and Leonard Wood watched the track’s first-ever Cup race from a vantage point on the backstretch.

And it was at Martinsville in 1953 that Glen Wood made his first Cup start, in a 1953 Lincoln. The official payout from that race shows he won $25, which did not deter him from returning to the track where he went on to score four Cup poles, a second-place finish and two thirds.

Heading into the weekend, the Woods have made 111 Cup starts at Martinsville, with two wins – one by Cale Yarborough and another by David Pearson – along with 28 top-five and 42 top-10 finishes plus eight poles.

Eddie Wood has seen both his father Glen and his son Jon win races at Martinsville.

Eddie Wood was present in 1960 when his dad won a Modified Division race in a 1937 Ford known then and now as the Backseater.

That car gets its name from the fact that the Woods, taking advantage of the more liberal rules of the Modified division, moved the engine so far back that the driver’s seat was pushed back to where the back seat normally would be.

Eddie Wood, along with Glen Wood, were on hand in 2003 when Jon Wood won a Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville.

12592611_10153812727603145_5874229983433434768_n This weekend, in addition to seeing Ryan Blaney try to continue his early season run of success in the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion, the Woods will be there to see their long-time supporter Edsel B. Ford II serve as honorary pace car driver and wheel a Ford Shelby 350GT at the head of the field just prior to the start of Sunday’s race.

“It’s going to be really cool to have Edsel Ford driving the pace car, and it will be an honor to be able to show him around our home track,” Wood said.

Then there are the Martinsville hot dogs, the track’s signature concession item which for years has been wildly popular both inside the garage and in the grandstands.

“I usually average eight or 10 a day,” Wood said. “I eat them for breakfast and lunch, and then grab a few to eat on the ride home.

“They’re like potato chips. You just can’t put them down.”

Qualifying for the STP 500 is set for Friday at 4:35 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. Sunday with TV coverage on FoxSports 1.

Blaney Scores Third Top-10 Of 2017 at Fontana

86f02dedc0396ddf1815fdb655ed2baf-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team battled back from a pit-road penalty that sent Blaney to the back of the pack after the first stage and came home with a ninth-place finish in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

It was Blaney’s third top-10 finish in five races this season and the 14th of his brief 59-race Cup career.

Blaney’s No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was strong from the beginning of Sunday’s 400-mile race that concluded NASCAR’s western swing. He moved from his 19th starting position into the top five during the opening 60-lap stage. By the end of the stage, he was ninth, earning two points. A penalty for removing equipment from his pits on the pit stop following Stage One sent him to the rear of the field, but he managed to stay on the lead lap through the entire second stage.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the penalty was assessed because one of the team’s gas cans slid just outside the pit boundary.

“We had a lot going on during that stop,” he said. “We were pulling tape from the front end and fixing damage to the right-front fender. It was kind of a freak thing, but Ryan did a great job keeping us on the lead lap, and the crew had some fantastic stops the rest of the race.”

8dbc935128c6e4863e5d95152912f622-1 After hanging on to the lead lap through Stage Two, Blaney restarted 13th for the start of the third and final segment of the race. He was a top-10 and top-15 contender throughout. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew was at its best as the laps wound down, and on the final “money stop” gained Blaney four spots on pit road, which put him in sixth place with five laps to run.

One final caution sent the race into overtime, and Blaney lined up fifth for the run to the finish and wound up ninth.

“Most restarts worked in our favor except the last one,” Blaney said. “We just got put three-wide there and kind of got hurt. Not a bad day for us coming back from that pit-road penalty. That was pretty good.”

Blaney’s finish preserves his seventh-place position in the Cup standings heading into this weekend’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, home track for his Wood Brothers team.

 

Blaney To Start 19th In Auto Club 400

7fbb1099773688efb986554bcc3cf49f-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were among a number of their peers at Auto Club Speedway on Friday that had to hustle to get out of the NASCAR inspection line in time to qualify for Sunday’s Auto Club 400. In fact, five drivers never got on the track during qualifying.

Blaney did, with a few minutes to spare, and posted the 21st-fastest time in the first of three qualifying rounds.  His speed of 183.950 miles per hour was fast enough to propel him to the second round. There, he was 19th fastest, at 183.641mph, but that wasn’t fast enough to advance to the final round, so Blaney will line up 19th on Sunday.

He said in his post-qualifying comments that the scramble to get through inspection didn’t hamper him once he got on the track.

9e199e8e666be2f510c4161458d2cd3b-1“No. I just think we missed it,” he said. “We were a little too free in practice, and we probably over-adjusted a little bit and got on the tight side.

“It’s something to learn from for the next time we come here.”

Blaney felt better about his speed in Friday’s opening practice session, where the No. 21 Motorcraft /Quick Lane Fusion was atop the speed charts for a time before ending the session seventh fastest with a best lap of 187.471 mph. He and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team spent much of that practice round preparing for race conditions.

“I think in race trim we’re going in a good direction, so we’ll see how that goes,” he said.

After two practice sessions on Saturday, the Auto Club 400 is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday (3:30 Eastern Time) with TV coverage on FOX.

California Has Been Good To The Woods

12039442_10153759744743145_5761322120496907121_nAs Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team prepare to race in this weekend’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., there are several reasons for them to be optimistic.

For starters, Blaney is solidly in the top 10 in Cup points after the first four races of the season, and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion has shown good speed each week this season with third- and second-place starts in the past two races.

Then there’s the Wood Brothers’ history in the state of California, where the team has won 10 races, 12 poles and scored 32 top-five finishes. They’ve accomplished that with some of auto racing’s greatest drivers behind the wheel of their iconic No. 21 Ford.

Two of the tracks where the Woods have had the most success are in the same general vicinity as the speedway in Fontana.

Riverside International Raceway, a 2.6-mile road course that was a regular Cup stop from 1958-1988, was about 30 miles from the Fontana track. Ontario Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mile oval that hosted Cup races from 1971-1980, was about 10 miles away.

At Riverside the Woods won seven times, four with Dan Gurney driving and three more with David Pearson. At Ontario, A.J. Foyt won twice in the No. 21, with Pearson also winning one.

The list of drivers who scored top-five finishes at those two tracks reads like a Who’s Who of American Motorsports. In addition to Foyt, Pearson and Gurney, it includes Curtis Turner, Cale Yarborough, Marvin Panch, Dave MacDonald, Neil Bonnett and Kyle Petty.

The Woods also have a runner-up finish on the road course at Sonoma with Ricky Rudd driving.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that even though his team hasn’t had the success at Auto Club in recent seasons that it did on the other tracks nearby, he believes racing history has a way of repeating itself.

“I feel really good going to California,” Wood said. “Racing here has been good to the Wood family for a long time, and now that we’re off to a pretty good start this year, we’d like to be able to add Ryan Blaney’s name to the list of drivers who have had wins and good finishes for us in California.”

Qualifying for the Auto Club 400 is set for Friday at 4:05 p.m. (7:05 Eastern Time), and the race should get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday (3:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.