Category Archives: 2016

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.

Blaney Optimistic After Qualifying 15th At Martinsville

Martinsville 2The 25th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies set the weekend standards pretty high Thursday night with a 39-36 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers, but Ryan Blaney and the crew of his No. 21 Virginia Tech Ford Fusion believe they can do their part to make the Hokie faithful proud in this weekend’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Blaney, driving the burgundy and orange Fusion for the Wood Brothers from nearby Stuart, was eighth fastest in the opening round of qualifying on Friday at Martinsville. He was a tick of the clock slower in the second round, which puts him starting 15th for Sunday’s 500-lap grind on one of NASCAR’s shortest – but toughest – tracks.

Martinsville 1 “We don’t come out here to try to run 20th,” Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments, adding that there is still time to get additional speed out of the Virginia Tech Fusion before the start of Sunday’s race. “We’ll have a couple of race practices tomorrow and see if we can get a little bit better and work our way up during the race.”

“Obviously, you’re not happy when you don’t sit on the pole, but I thought there were some things we could take away from it and try to apply them for tomorrow.”

Although Blaney has just one Sprint Cup start at Martinsville, earlier this year in which he finished 19th, he does have five starts there in the Camping World Truck Series, where he recorded three top-five finishes and an eighth-place finish along with one front-row start.

Sunday’s race is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. with TV coverage on NBCSN.

The No. 21 Virginia Tech Ford Fusion Will Be The Home Team At Martinsville

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, BristolFor the Wood Brothers and their crew chief Jeremy Bullins, this week’s trip to Martinsville Speedway is like returning to the home place for a family reunion.

Both the Woods and Bullins consider Martinsville their home track, and their sponsor for the weekend, Virginia Tech, is from nearby Blacksburg.

This weekend’s race is a first at Martinsville for the Virginia Tech athletic program, but the Woods have been competing at Martinsville since the 1950s.

Bullins started out attending races there as a fan before beginning his career in NASCAR.

The Woods make their familiar 28-mile trek to Martinsville down U.S 58 from their home in Stuart, Va., before turning onto U.S. 220 just south of the track.

Bullins’ preferred route carries him over the backroads from his home just across the Virginia-North Carolina line in Walnut Cove before turning onto U.S. 220 at the state line.

“Whenever we go to Charlotte, the ‘home track’ phrase comes up a lot,” Bullins said. “For the 21 car, as well as for me personally, Martinsville is my home track. It’s also my favorite place we go all season.”

“Most of us come from short track backgrounds, and I guess I’ve been going to Martinsville since my dad would take me there at five or six years old.

I grew up a half hour away so maybe that’s why I’m so partial to it.”

The home track feeling takes on a new meaning this weekend as the No. 21 Fusion will be adorned with burgundy and orange colors of the Hokies.

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, BristolVirginia Tech took its first ride on the No. 21 back in August at Bristol Motor Speedway.  The paint scheme and the association with the Hokies were a hit in the garage and in the grandstands at Bristol.

Team owner Eddie Wood said he’s proud to have Virginia Tech back on board for a race in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“It’s a real honor to be representing Virginia Tech, and it’s neat to be doing so at the home track for both of us,” he said, adding that he and the rest of the Wood Brothers crew are proud of the Hokies football team, which was 5-2 (3-1 in the ACC) heading into Thursday night’s game in Pittsburgh.

Bullins said he’s looking for a strong run this weekend at Martinsville, where the tight, paper-clip-shaped track tends to confound many a driver, especially rookies. But Ryan Blaney fared better than most in his Martinsville debut, qualifying 12th and finishing 19th in the STP 500 back in April.

“To come away with a lead-lap finish was pretty good for his first Cup race,” Bullins said. “A 500-lap race is a long time to stay out of trouble.”

“I know that experience will be big for us going into this weekend. He also did a remarkable job qualifying, making the final round.

“I look forward to see how competitive we can be on our second trip back there together.”

Qualifying for the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 is set for Friday at 4:40 p.m. and the race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Blaney A Big Part Of A Powerful Talladega Performance By Ford Motor Company

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, TalladegaRyan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team put on a strong performance in the Hellman’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. On a day in which Ford Motor Company came away with a big win by Joey Logano and Team Penske, four other Ford Fusion drivers, including Blaney, finished in the top 11.

Ryan had one of his best runs in weeks as he led the 500 on two occasions and was in the runner-up spot for long stretches at a time before finishing 11th. He wound up saving his best performance for the end, when he drove from 21st to 11th on the final lap.

“Passing 10 cars on the last lap is like Earnhardt used to do,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said of Blaney’s last-lap dash. “We knew going into that overtime finish that restarting ninth, it was going to be three- and four-wide and wild.”

“Ryan got shuffled back but did a tremendous job recovering in a short time. He did a great job all day. We were in the top four nearly the entire second half of the race.”

Wood also offered his congratulations to his fellow Ford teammates on the No. 22 team for their Talladega win, which puts them in the Round of Eight in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

2016 NASCAR Talladega “I was watching them in the closing laps as much as I was Ryan,” Wood said. “I’m happy to see our Ford teammates in Victory Lane.”

Wood said his own team’s strong runs this season are due in large part to its alliance with Team Penske and all the support from Motorcraft/Quick Lane and Ford Performance.

“All year long we’ve had great cars and great equipment,” he said. “They are great people to work with.”

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane over-the-wall crew had another stellar afternoon. NASCAR’s pit road stat sheet shows the No. 21 crew at the top of the standings. On four stops, Blaney was on pit road for a total of just 2 minutes and 22.837 seconds, better than any other team on pit road.

To top it all off, Wood said, was the sight of a Talladega grandstand packed with enthusiastic fans.

“You can always count on Talladega to bring out the kind of crowd we all like to see,” he said.

Blaney and the No. 21 team now head to the Wood Brothers’ home track, Martinsville Speedway for Sunday’s Goody’s 500, where the iconic Ford Fusion will carry the colors of Virginia Tech.

Blaney To Honor The Late Neil Bonnett At Talladega

IMG_3203Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are planning an encore presentation of their throwback theme first used at the Darlington Raceway earlier this season.

Blaney, at his own request, will wear the same uniform he wore during the Southern 500 to honor David Pearson.

At Talladega, he’ll wear the uniform in honor of both Pearson and the late Neil Bonnett, who was from Bessemer, Ala., and considered Talladega his home track.

Bonnett succeeded Pearson as driver of the iconic No. 21 midway through the 1979 season and used a uniform just like the one Pearson wore. Once aboard the No. 21, Bonnett won in his third start, at Dover International Speedway. He won twice more that season, at Daytona and Atlanta.

In 1980, he won back-to-back races at Pocono Raceway and Talladega. He won three more in 1981 and another in 1982, giving him nine wins in four seasons, all while running a limited schedule.

Photo Credit Don Hunter/Smyle Media

Photo Credit Don Hunter/Smyle Media

His 1980 win at Talladega was classic Neil Bonnett. He had the No. 21 out front seven times for 53 laps, but won the race in dramatic fashion.

A restart with seven laps remaining set up a shootout for the win between Bonnett, Cale Yarborough, Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Yarbrough took the lead at the drop of the green flag, but Bonnett, who had been leading prior to the final caution flag, wasn’t done, as team co-owner Eddie Wood recalled.

“We were pulling a higher gear than anyone else,” Wood said of his team’s 3.00:1 rear gear ratio. “It took our car a couple of laps to get up to speed, but when it did get going Neil was faster than the others.”

It took Bonnett three laps to regain the lead, and he led the final four – just like the week before at Pocono – to score the win.

Behind him, Yarborough edged Earnhardt for second place with Parsons finishing fourth.

Wood said it was a popular victory for Bonnett, a member of the famed Alabama Gang who had a host of family members on hand to celebrate with him.

“For Neil, Talladega was just like Martinsville is for us,” Wood said. “There were all kinds of cousins there picnicking in the infield. That made it even more special for him to win there.”

Photo Credit Wood Brothers/Smyle Media

Photo Credit Wood Brothers/Smyle Media

It wasn’t just family that celebrated Bonnett’s win at Talladega. As a member of the Alabama Gang along with Donnie and Bobby Allison and Red Farmer, Bonnett had a strong following in his home state.

“I remember the first time I ever heard the term ‘Alabama Gang’ was when Neil was driving for us,” Wood said. “Eli Gold, the voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide and a NASCAR announcer said it on a radio broadcast.

I thought it sounded really cool.”

Wood said Bonnett loved racing at places like Talladega and Daytona because of the high speeds attained at those two tracks.

“He was one of those guys that loved to go fast,” Wood said, adding that Bonnett, who died in a crash during practice for the 1994 Daytona 500, had two other careers besides driving race cars.

“He was a pipefitter in the beginning and a broadcaster after his driving days started to wind down.”

“I’m really happy that Ryan wanted to wear the uniform this weekend to honor Neil, and I’m proud of the entire Motorcraft/Quick Lane team for backing him as we recognize one of the more popular members of the Wood Brothers racing family.”

Qualifying for the Hellman’s 500 is set for Saturday at 4:10 p.m. and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.