Category Archives: 2016

Disappointing Finish at Homestead Doesn’t Dampen Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team’s Enthusiasm About 2017

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, HomesteadAn early encounter with the wall kept Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team from achieving the result they were hoping for in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But as Blaney and the team head into the off-season, the future looks much more encouraging.

Team co-owner Len Wood said the 2016 season has been a great learning experience for Blaney and his young crew, and that will pay dividends in the future.

“Ryan now has a full year under his belt,” Wood said. “He’s run all the tracks, and next year will be a lot better for him.”

The future also looks promising for Wood and his family-owned team, which just completed its first full season on the circuit since 2008.

“In our first year back we were able to get Ryan in the top 20 in the final points standings,” Wood said. “That’s a significant accomplishment, and I feel certain we can improve on that next year.”

At Homestead, Blaney qualified eighth for the premier event of Ford Championship Weekend, his 12th top-12 start of the season, but he struggled from the start of the race.

He bounced off the wall, bringing out the race’s first caution flag at Lap 28. The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew made repairs, but the damage was more serious than it initially appeared, and he hit the wall again after blowing a tire on Lap 208. Still, he and the team soldiered on and wound up with a 26th-place finish.

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Homestead “I made a lot of mistakes,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “I made a big mistake early and we ended up getting a flat tire out of it. I just hit the wall early being impatient. That just wasn’t smart, so that’s something I need to be better at and not being so impatient.”

But as he and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team closed the book on his rookie season, he was able to find some positives despite the disappointment of the season finale. He ended the year with three top-five and nine top-10 finishes.

“We learned a lot this year,” he said. “It was a fun year, and I’m just looking forward to years to come.”

“This team does a great job. We’ll learn during the off-season and then come back.”

Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team kick off the 2017 season at Daytona International Speedway next Feb. 23-25.

Blaney Qualifies Eighth For The Third-Straight Week

2016 NASCAR HomesteadRyan Blaney and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion wound up in a familiar position after Friday’s Sprint Cup qualifying session at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After finishing 11th in the first round of knock-out qualifying and second in the second session, Blaney was eighth in Round Three. It was the third straight week that Blaney qualified eighth and the ninth time this season that he qualified eighth or better. He’s earned a top-12 starting position 12 times this season.

Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments that he was hoping to close out the 2016 season with an even better qualifying effort, but slipped ever so slightly on his final lap.

“[Turns] One and Two weren’t very good,” he said. “I tried to switch something up there, and it didn’t really work.

“That probably could have made it a lot better.”

Still, he’ll be starting ahead of the four drivers who will be racing for the Sprint Cup championship in the Ford EcoBoost 400, the premier event of Ford Championship Weekend.

“You want to end up better,” Blaney said. “It’s a decent place to start on Sunday.”

The Ford EcoBoost 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.

Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Has Performed Well In Return To Full-Time Sprint Cup Competition

Homestead 1A year ago, during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Eddie and Len Wood along with representatives of Ford Motor Company and Motorcraft/Quick Lane announced the latest chapter in the long and storied history of the Wood Brothers racing team.

After spending seven years running a limited Sprint Cup schedule and regrouping the organization, the Woods and their No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion would return to a full-time status.

The Woods also announced the continuation of a technical alliance with Team Penske and that driver Ryan Blaney and crew chief Jeremy Bullins, both still rookies at the Cup level, would return to the No. 21, where they had run a limited schedule in 2015.

As Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to Homestead this week, their performance on the race track has validated the decision to return to full-time status.

Entering the final race of the 2016 season, Blaney has three top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has been running at the finish of 33 of the 35 races to date and has finished on the lead lap 23 times. He’s 20th in the driver points standings, and the Woods are tied for 20th in the owner standings.

It’s the first time since 2005, when Ricky Rudd was the team’s driver, that the No. 21 Ford has scored nine top-10 finishes in a season. And it’s the best performance as far as top-fives since 1995, when Morgan Shepherd was at the wheel.

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Michigan The Woods, despite their return to full-time status, still must qualify for each race.  Blaney and the team have had the speed needed each week. His eighth-place qualifying effort last week at Phoenix marked the 11th time this season that he qualified in the top 12.

Eddie Wood said he’s proud of the way the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has performed this year.

“It’s been a really good season,” he said. “We’ve had some really good runs. Everybody has learned a lot and figured out how to work well together.”

“The pit crew has been consistently good. Ryan and Jeremy have a good relationship and some good chemistry going.”

“I feel really great about the way things are going.”

Wood also is looking forward to returning to Homestead for the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400.

“I always look forward to the Ford Championship Weekend,” he said. “We get to spend time with our friends from Ford Motor Company and Motorcraft/Quick Lane.” This year we’re all excited to see Joey Logano and the No. 22 team over at Team Penske be a part of the championship battle.

“Of course our focus will be on the No. 21 on Sunday, but we’ll also be closely following the 22 and pulling for them to win the championship for Ford.”

For Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead kicks off with practice and qualifying on Friday, with the qualifying session beginning at 6:15 p.m. and the Ford EcoBoost 400 getting the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.

Late-Race Surge Lifts Blaney, No. 21 SKF Ford Fusion To Eighth at Phoenix

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, PhoenixRyan Blaney and the crew of his No. 21 SKF/Kaman Industrial Technologies Ford Fusion spent most of Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway working to make his car handle better.

The hard work paid off in the end as Blaney surged forward in the closing laps to finish eighth, his ninth top-10 finish of the 2016 season.

Blaney started eighth and struggled in the early going. By the time the race reached the final 50 laps he was still outside the top 10. But he and his crew benefited from several late-race caution periods and worked their way into the top 10. Then, when a caution flag for a crash by Michael McDowell set up an overtime finish, Blaney moved into the top 10 and survived two restarts to finish eighth.

Ironically, an unscheduled pit stop to tighten a loose lug nut turned to the team’s advantage when the team took the opportunity to put on new tires. That allowed Blaney to finish the race on fresher rubber than he otherwise would have.

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Phoenix  “It was a great day all around, and we’re really happy to finish in the top 10 in a tough race,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “Ryan drove a great race. [Crew chief] Jeremy [Bullins] made some great calls, and the crew did an outstanding job.”

“It was especially nice to have representatives of SKF and one of their distributors, Kaman Industrial Technologies with us as well as Edsel Ford II.”

Wood joined his fellow members of the No. 21 SKF/Kaman team in congratulating their fellow Ford team members at Team Penske on the victory at Phoenix by Joey Logano and the No. 22 team.

That win puts Logano and the No. 22 team in position to compete for the Sprint Cup championship during the upcoming Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“We enjoyed seeing how excited Mr. Ford was to see Joey win in a Ford and be able to represent the Blue Oval in the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead,” Wood said.

Blaney Qualifies Eighth At Phoenix In No. 21 SKF/KAMAN Ford Fusion

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, PhoenixRyan Blaney breezed through all three rounds of knock-out qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday to put his No. 21 SKF/KAMAN Ford Fusion in the eighth starting spot for Sunday’s Can-Am 500.

It was Blaney’s 11th top-12 qualifying effort this season.

Blaney and the No. 21 crew unloaded fast and improved their speed throughout the day at Phoenix. He was ninth fastest in the opening practice session with a best lap of 138.894 miles per hour. He was fifth fastest in the opening round of qualifying with a lap at 139.340 mph, then went 139.811 in the second round to post the fourth best speed.

In the final round he ran a lap at 139.638 mph despite unexpectedly having to navigate around another car on his final lap.

Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments that while he is happy with a top-10 starting spot he was hoping for more.

2016 NASCAR Phoenix“It wasn’t exactly what we want obviously but not a bad starting spot,” he said. “We didn’t adjust enough the last run to kind of get where we needed to be.”

“That is still not a bad starting spot, and we can see the front from there. Hopefully we will be good in race trim tomorrow and get this Ford Fusion dialed in for Sunday.”

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said a strong performance on Friday sets the stage for the No. 21 team to deliver a good finish on Sunday for sponsors SKF and KAMAN Industrial Technologies.

“The key to a good weekend is being fast off the truck,” Wood said. “Ryan and the SKF/KAMAN team were able to do that here at Phoenix, and we were in the top 10 all day.”

“That allows us to get a good pit-stall selection on Sunday, and having speed on Friday makes it more likely that we can tune the car for more race-day speed during Saturday’s practice session.”

Sunday’s Can-Am 500 (kilometer) race is set to get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage on NBC.

Blaney and No. 21 SKF Ford Team Looking To Build Momentum At Phoenix

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, RichmondRyan Blaney and the No. 21 SKF Ford Fusion team head into this weekend’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway heartened by a strong run at Texas Motor Speedway and looking to end the season on a positive note.

With Sunday’s race being the next-to-last event on the 2016 Sprint Cup schedule, Blaney and his Wood Brothers team are hoping to match – or better – their Phoenix performance back in March when he recorded his second top-10 finish of the season.

Sunday’s CAN-AM 500 is expected to produce some of the season’s most dramatic moments as the finishing order will determine which four drivers will compete for the Sprint Cup Championship in Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18-20.

Although Blaney isn’t eligible for a berth in the Championship Round, he still wants to give his team and its sponsors a good ride at Phoenix.

“I’m really excited to have SKF with us this weekend,” he said. “They have been a big supporter in my Cup career. I don’t have a lot of Cup experience at Phoenix, but earlier in the year we finished 10th in our first Cup start here.”

“I am hoping the team and I can have another solid run for SKF and KAMAN.

In between the two Phoenix races has been a long rookie season that has seen Blaney post three top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He’s now 20th in the driver standings, 21 points ahead of 21st place, while the Wood Brothers are 21st in the owner standings, just nine points shy of the top 20.

Team co-owner Len Wood said that with a rookie driver and crew chief, finishing the season in the top 20 has been a goal from the beginning.

“You always set your goals high, but they also need to be reasonable,” Wood said. “We’d all be pretty happy to wind up in the top 20 in our first year back as a full-time team since 2008.”

Wood also said he’s hoping to deliver a strong Phoenix finish for sponsors SKF and KAMAN.

“We’ve gotten to work with SKF several times in the past two seasons and their support is much appreciated,” Wood said. “You always want to put your sponsor’s colors up front on the race track, and that’s what we plan to do this weekend.”

For crew chief Jeremy Bullins, the trip back to Phoenix, where the Sprint Cup circuit ran its third race of the season, offers the SKF team a late-season opportunity to build momentum for the 2017 campaign. He said he’s encouraged by the team’s performance at Texas this past Sunday, where Blaney ran in the top 10 for much of the race before finishing 12th after a late-race gamble to stop for fresh tires just before rain ended the race.

“Last week at Texas was the kind of weekend we are looking for as we build for the future,” Bullins said. “We were fast off the truck, qualified well and had a great handling Ford in the race.”

“A couple more weekends like that and we will all be anxious for 2017 to get here and be back in Phoenix again.”

Qualifying for the 500-kilometer race at Phoenix is set for Friday at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.

Blaney Finishes 12th in Rain-Shortened AAA Texas 500

2016 NASCAR TexasRyan Blaney and the No. 21 BorgWarner crew had a fast Ford Fusion throughout Sunday’s rain-delayed Texas AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and came home 12th in the rain-shortened event.

Blaney started eighth and ran around the top 10 – and as high as fifth place – for most of the race.

The BorgWarner Ford Fusion was at its best on long runs, and Blaney also was able to find speed by running the top lane.

He was running in the 10th position when rain brought out the caution flag with 46 laps left to run.

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins called Blaney to pit road for fresh tires, which cost him a couple of spots but could have put him in position to contend for the win had the rain held off.

But the rain continued, and the race was called at that point, leaving the BorgWarner team with its 14th finish of 12th or better this season.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he had no problem with the decision to pit for fresh tires despite the chance the race would not be restarted.

“That’s the way you win races,” he said.

Wood added that he was proud to see his team perform so well in its first race with BorgWarner on board.

“Ryan did a great job,” Wood said. “The car was fast all night, and the pit crew had another outstanding race.

It’s always good to perform well when you have a new sponsor with you.”

2016 NASCAR TexasWood also said he was honored to have nine guests from BorgWarner and Ford Motor Company on the team’s pit box and with the team through a long day and night at the track.

“We got to spend a lot of time together with the rain delay, and we found that we have a lot in common,” he said. “We shared some stories and found that we have a lot more shared history than we initially realized.”

“We talked about all the BorgWarner components we’ve run over the years, including transmissions we ran for decades.”

The No. 21 Wood Brothers Fusion will return to the track this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway where it will carry the colors of SKF for the second time this season.

Blaney Will Start Eighth At Texas In No. 21 BorgWarner Ford Fusion

2016 NASCAR TexasWith new sponsor BorgWarner on board, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Wood Brothers team turned in one of their best qualifying efforts of the season.

Blaney, who was fifth fastest in Friday’s opening practice session, made it through all three rounds of knock-out qualifying and wound up with the eighth starting position for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was his 10th top-12 qualifying effort this season and his first top-12 since a seventh-place start at Michigan International Speedway in August. He went on to finish fourth in that race, the Pure Michigan 400.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the latest strong qualifying effort came at a good time.

“Texas is a really fast place, and this is a prestigious race,” he said. “With a new sponsor, BorgWarner, on board, it’s good to make it through all three qualifying rounds.  We want to make the most of this opportunity.”

“BorgWarner has a lot of guests coming to the race on Sunday, and we’re all looking forward to that.”

2016 NASCAR Texas Blaney, who was 13th in the first round of qualifying and ninth fastest in the second, said he was pleased to improve his position each time on the track.

“We got better every run, which is good,” he said. “That is really all you can ask for. We thought we were going to be a lot looser than we were, and we kind of fought tight the entire time.”

“We were really loose in practice and kept tightening it up and got to qualifying and were a little too snug.”

“It was a good effort for us, and we have a whole new day tomorrow to try to get our car good in race trim and see what we can do.”

Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford Fusion to Carry BorgWarner Colors at Texas Motor Speedway

21_BorgWarner_FINALThe Wood Brothers and their iconic No. 21 Ford Fusion will carry the colors of automotive supplier BorgWarner Inc. in this weekend’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The pairing of the Woods and BorgWarner is an appropriate one, given the long histories of the two companies. The Woods have been racing in NASCAR continuously since 1953, longer than any other team. BorgWarner, which is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., was formed in 1928 and has become a global product leader in clean and efficient technology solutions for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles.

BorgWarner’s history in auto racing is symbolized by the Borg-Warner Trophy™, which has been presented to every winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 1936.

BorgWarner_0010Both companies have long histories with Ford Motor Company, as the Woods have raced only Ford products throughout their history and BorgWarner has been a supplier of Ford components for decades.

It was BorgWarner that developed Ford’s first automatic transmission, the Ford-O-Matic, in 1951. The company continues to produce major innovations in all-wheel drive, emissions, engine timing, turbocharging, and electric and hybrid propulsion systems.

Just as racing in the Sprint Cup Series has seen the Woods adapt to technology they never envisioned in the early days, BorgWarner is on the forefront of automotive innovation, transforming vehicles to more fuel efficient, cleaner technologies with systems that deliver powerful propulsion.

Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Ford Fusion, said this weekend at Texas won’t be the first time his family’s cars have carried the BorgWarner logo.

IMG_5372“We’ve used BorgWarner components on our cars for years,” Wood said. “The Mercury that David Pearson drove to victory in the 1976 Daytona 500 has a BorgWarner decal prominently displayed on the front fender of the car. At that time, they were a contingency  sponsor in NASCAR.”

In fact, Wood still has a few BorgWarner parts in the family’s racing museum. A rotor button, ignition breaker points and a condenser still in the original boxes.

“It’s an honor to get to represent BorgWarner at Texas, given the company’s long history in racing, and the fact that we’ve used their components so often in the past,” he said. “We’re hoping to do them proud this weekend.”

Ryan Blaney, the rookie driver of the No. 21 Ford Fusion, enters this weekend with three top-five and eight top-10 finishes so far in his first full season in NASCAR’s elite division. His 19th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday moved him to 20th place in the driver standings with three races left to run.

Qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 is set for Friday at 6:45 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 2 p.m. Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Blaney Drives Virginia Tech Fusion To A 19th-Place Finish at Martinsville

2016 NASCAR MartinsvilleRyan Blaney drove the No. 21 Virginia Tech Ford Fusion to a 19th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500, recording his 21st finish of 19th or better in the 33 races so far this season.

Blaney started 15th and ran between 15th and 20th for much of the afternoon.

“It was kind of an up-and-down day for sure,” he said. “On some runs we were OK, and other runs we kind of struggled a little bit.”

2016 NASCAR Martinsville“Our strong point was up to about lap 40 of a run and then we’d kind of fall off.”
Blaney, who was racing at Martinsville in Sprint Cup for just the second time, said he still has a lot to learn about the tricky, paper-clip-shaped short track.

“I need to change some stuff up here, but I thought we were going to finish better than what we did,” he said. “I kind of got in some trouble there and lost a bunch of spots, but, overall it was a decent day.”

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said Blaney did well to run the entire race at a place that often confounds newcomers.

“Ryan ran around the top 15 for most of the day and was around for the finish,” Wood said. “ And every position at Martinsville is always hard fought.”

Wood said he was heartened by the crowd that turned out on Sunday, and by the number of Virginia Tech fans and alumni that were on hand to see the No. 21 Virginia Tech Fusion in competition.

2016 NASCAR Martinsville“Congratulations to [track president] Clay Campbell and his staff for a great race and a great crowd,” Wood said. “And it was neat to see a lot of burgundy and orange at the track today.”

Wood also said he appreciated Virginia Tech’s legendary Coach Frank Beamer being on the pit box with the No. 21 team Sunday afternoon.

“That was a real honor,” he said. “Coach Beamer is really popular in this part of the country, and it was really cool to have him there with us.”

Blaney’s finish moved him up one spot in the Sprint Cup standings to 20th heading into next week’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.