Category Archives: 2017

Blaney Qualifies 10th For Bristol Night Race; Team To Honor Late Crewman Butch Moricle

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, Bristol Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team unloaded another fast Ford Fusion at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday. They set the pace in final practice for the second-straight week and earned the 10th starting spot for Saturday’s Night Race.

It was the 16th time in 24 races this season that Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team have qualified in the top 10.

Blaney was fourth fastest in the opening practice session with a lap at 128.917 miles per hour. Then, for the second-straight week he set the pace in final practice, this time turning a lap at 128.554 mph.

In qualifying, Blaney was ninth fastest in the opening round with a lap at 128.142 mph, then seventh in the second round with a lap at 127.758 mph before running 126.854 mph in the third round to secure the 10th starting spot.

“I’d like to be nine spots better, but I think our car was pretty decent,” Blaney said. “We lost a little bit of speed going into qualifying, which kind of stinks, but we still got a pretty decent starting spot for the race.”

“We can see the front, and I think our race car was fairly decent today. Hopefully, we’ll make some good changes and we’ll see where this Xfinity race goes in terms of the line and stuff, and then go from there.”

IMG_0213 The No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion will carry a special decal this weekend to honor the memory of long-time crew member Butch Moricle, who passed away unexpectedly on Aug.15 at the age of 65.

Moricle, a first cousin of current team owners Eddie and Len Wood and their sister Kim Wood Hall and nephew of family matriarch Bernece Wood, has been a member of the Wood Brothers crew since 1972, when he came on board to help the team get two cars prepared for the National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Moricle worked on the second car, a No. 41 Mercury which A.J. Foyt drove to a fourth-place finish. David Pearson, in the familiar No. 21, was third.

Moricle became a full-time employee in 1985 when the team first went full-time racing. He’s been with the Wood Brothers since and most recently worked on the restoration of cars from the team’s early days.

His first replica race car project was in 1996, when he worked on a 1937 Ford called the Backseater. In 2012, he helped build a 1963 Galaxie like Tiny Lund’s Daytona 500 winner.

The next year he worked on a 1961 Starliner like the one Glen Wood raced.

IMG_0212 For the past two years he restored a 1962 Starlift like Marvin Panch drove, and was working on a 1954 Ford replica at the time of his death.

“We’re really going to miss him, he and I were born in the same hospital one day apart.” Eddie Wood said. “He was a really, really good machinist, fabricator and mechanic.”

“When he first came to work for us we didn’t have enough parts to have two cars ready to race. It was kind of a last-minute deal for A.J. to drive for us, and Butch made a lot of the money parts that we needed to get the second car ready.”

Eddie and Len Wood plan to attend Moricle’s funeral Saturday morning in Stuart, Va., then travel to Bristol for the Night Race, which is set to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. with TV coverage on NBC.

Wood Brothers Team Preparing To Race For A Second Car Owner Championship

Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head to Bristol Motor Speedway looking for a strong run to build momentum as Blaney prepares himself to battle for his first championship in NASCAR’s elite division while his Wood Brothers team is seeking its second car owner title.

Many fans know the Woods, NASCAR’s longest continuously operating team, have won 99 Cup races and 117 poles, but few realize the Woods also have an owner’s championship from the 1963 season.

IMG_0207 The ’63 season saw Joe Weatherly win his second straight championship by cobbling together a string of nine different car owners through the course of the season. Weatherly, who had driven the Woods’ No. 21 himself in four races in prior seasons, ran a total of 53 races in 1963, winning three of them and scoring 20 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes. But since he ran for so many different owners none of them accumulated as many points as the Woods, who ran 23 races with the No. 21 scoring three wins, 16 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes.

The Woods used five drivers – Fred Lorenzen, Tiny Lund, Dave MacDonald, Marvin Panch and team founder Glen Wood.

Lund won the Daytona 500 that year, while Panch won at North Wilkesboro and Wood at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.

IMG_0205The owner’s championship trophy from 1963 carries the name of Ray Lee Wood, one of the original Wood Brothers crew and a brother of other team members Glen, Leonard, Delano and the late Clay. Ray Lee was a tire changer before retiring from racing in 1965.

Glen Wood said he listed his brother’s name as the car owner in ‘63 to save money.

“You had to buy a different license for the driver and car owner, so instead of buying two in my name I put one in Ray Lee’s,” Wood recalled. “I saved ten dollars by doing it, but ten dollars was a good bit of money back then.

“It was my car, but it’s his name on the trophy.”

If Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were to win the championship this year, Wood will be expecting a much bigger check than he received back in 1963.

“I don’t even remember how much it was,” he said. “But it was nothing like what it pays today.”

The next step on the road to the championship is on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, where qualifying for the Night Race is set for 5:45 p.m. on Friday and the 500-lap race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBC.

Blaney Finishes 15th At Michigan As Playoff Berth Is Secured

64b6f3292d69aa21a81a4ae0b38f39ed-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/SKF team salvaged a 15th-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway after a mid-race setback knocked them out a chance to contend for the victory.

Even so, Blaney and his Wood Brothers team gained a spot in the championship standings to 12th place. More importantly, a race victory by a previous winner (Kyle Larson) secured Blaney and the Motorcraft team a spot in the playoffs, the 10-race run to the championship that begins after three more races.

For the early portions of Sunday’s 400-miler, Blaney and the No. 21 Fusion showed their usual speed.

Blaney started 12th and was running sixth after just one lap. He maintained that spot until pitting for tires.He was 11th at the end of Stage One.

In Stage Two, Blaney worked his way back to sixth place at the finish and collected five bonus points.

It was the 18th time this season that Blaney has scored stage points, and it ran his total for the season to 164.

f1437e88ed578e922c6b781ac86c8a55-1In the third and final stage, Blaney restarted fifth but received damage to the right front of the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF Fusion just after the restart. He made an unscheduled pit stop for repairs, and his team spent the rest of the race working to regain the lost ground.

Blaney received the free pass to rejoin the lead lap and then began running good lap times despite the body damage to his car. His team’s strategy was foiled by a late caution, and they took the wave-around late in the race.

Just when it looked as if the No. 21 team was headed for a finish outside the top 15, Blaney gained five spots on a green-white-checkered-flag run and took the 15th position.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Blaney said in his post-race comments. “We had a fast car and things just didn’t work out. We have fast cars every week and that gives us something to look forward to.”

Team co-owner Eddie Wood also took heart in the speed of the No. 21 Fusion.

“We had a fast race car early on and had some damage that set us back,” Wood said. “We were honored to have Mr. Edsel Ford II on our pit box again this weekend, and we were hoping to have a better result for him.”

“But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft team will return to work this Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Blaney Dominates Practice, First Two Rounds Of Qualifying At Michigan; Winds Up In 12th Place

c67ef842120f1520ab66591feb4920d5-1Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF team were a couple of bobbles away from sweeping the day on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Blaney was fastest in practice with a best lap at 203.591 miles per hour. Then in qualifying, he topped the first two rounds with laps at 201.686 mph in the first round and 203.120 mph in the second.

But in the third and final round he had to back off the gas after getting loose in Turn One. From that point on, any hope of winning the pole was lost and he wound up in 12th place after a lap at 201.235 mph.

“I just got loose over there [in Turn One],” Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments. “You lose time in one corner, and you can’t make it up.”

Still, it was the 16th time in 23 tries this season that he’s earned a starting spot of 12th or better.

“I’m proud of the first two rounds,” Blaney said. “We didn’t tighten the car up for the last round.”

And the fast times he turned on Friday have him feeling good about the rest of the Michigan weekend.

b7254871a584396d2048a0af86fd0713-1“We have good speed in our car,” he said. “Hopefully we should be able to drive up through everybody in the race.”

Team Penske, which shares a technical alliance with the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/SKF team, swept the front row with Brad Keselowski taking the pole and Joey Logano earning the outside pole.

The Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Michigan’s An Important Track For Blaney, Wood Brothers

3a3b3ea53670690e08e96ef95f23f40f-1 In the midst of one of their best seasons in years the Wood Brothers and their young driver are headed to Michigan International Speedway hoping for a strong run in front of their long-time backers at Ford Motor Company.

Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion have a win this season at Pocono Raceway, two other top-five and seven other top-10 finishes and a pole at Kansas Speedway.

They’ve scored stage points in 17 races so far and are set for the team’s first appearance in NASCAR’s playoffs.

Another impressive run, in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at MIS, would give the Woods and Blaney a chance to show their appreciation to both Motorcraft/Quick Lane and Ford Performance for helping the team return to the winning ranks in NASCAR’s elite division.

“It’s always important to run well everywhere,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “But it’s especially important for our family to run well at Michigan.

“It’s Ford’s home track, and running well there is a way of thanking our friends at Ford for supporting us through the years, through all the ups and downs.

“With their support we’ve been able to get back to full-time status and in position to compete for wins and championships.”

Also represented on the No. 21 Ford Fusion this weekend is associate sponsorship from SKF, which was a primary sponsor for the Wood Brothers in two races last season and has been a long-time supporter of motorsports, including a relationship with Wood Brothers’ technical partner, Team Penske.

SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services. The company is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 17,000 distributor locations worldwide.

Over the years, Michigan has been one of the better tracks for the Wood Brothers. They have 11 wins there, from their first one in the track’s inaugural Cup race in 1969 with Cale Yarborough driving, to their most recent one, with Dale Jarrett in 1991.

857ff159bfbdf3b3f22924348d0f514c-1More recently, Ryan Blaney had a fourth-place finish at Michigan in the fall of 2016 and was poised to score another top-five in June before a late-race incident knocked him out of contention.

“For a long time, we ran really well at Michigan,” Wood said. “Then there was a period of time when we didn’t run so well up there.

“But the last couple of years, with Ryan Blaney on board and with our relationship with Team Penske and with the additional technical support from Ford Performance, we’ve been competitive at Michigan again.

“I’m feeling really good about this weekend.”

Qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 is set for Friday at 5:05 p.m., and the race is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.

Late-Race Gamble At The Glen Comes A Couple of Laps Short For Blaney, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team

fdddf928cfba3bbb64d1fa90fdbddf57-1With their win earlier this season at Pocono Raceway assuring them of a playoff berth, Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team took a gamble on winning at Watkins Glen but came a couple of laps short on fuel.

Blaney was leading with three laps to go when the engine in his No. 21 Fusion began sputtering, so he ducked on to pit road for a splash of fuel. Nonetheless, he was able to score an eighth place finish, his best-ever result on a road course in NASCAR’s elite series.

Team co-owner Len Wood said he was proud of Blaney and crew chief Jeremy Bullins for coming so close to his team’s 100th career Cup victory.

“We took a shot at winning rather than saving fuel and finishing about fourth,” Wood said.

“That’s a fair gamble.

“We needed to run about 36 and a half laps on fuel. I thought we’d be OK, but we burned a little more fuel than we thought.

“I was proud of the whole team. Ryan drove a really good race, and Jeremy called a good race.”

Blaney qualified 16th and got his first big break when Bullins called him to pit road with three laps remaining in the first 20-lap Stage. That meant Blaney would have no chance of scoring stage points in the first stage, but the strategy set him up to advance through the field when the rest of the leaders made pit stops.

When the pit stops cycled through, Blaney wound up in fourth place at the end of Stage Two, earning seven bonus points.

It was the 17th time in the 22 races so far that he’s scored stage points, and Sunday’s bonus points ran his total for the season to 159.

With the track position gained by Bullins’ early move, Blaney ran among the leaders for the remainder of the race, which was slowed by cautions just three times, two of which were for the end of the first two stages.

He stopped for fuel and tires with 37 laps remaining and returned to the track in fourth place.

As drivers ahead of him stopped for fuel, Blaney inherited the lead with four laps remaining. But he ran dry too, handing the lead back to eventual winner Martin Truex Jr.

Even with the late stop, Blaney wound up eighth at the finish.

“I am pretty proud of the effort,” said Blaney, who remains 12th in the championship standings with four regular season races still to run. “We got up front at the beginning of the day and stayed there pretty much all day. I thought our strategy was right and we had a good race car.

“Things just didn’t work out for us. That is just the way it goes sometimes.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft team now head back to Michigan International Speedway, where in his most recent race there he was in contention to win before a late-race incident dropped him from the top five to a 25th-place finish.

High-Speed Watkins Glen Track Should Suit Ryan Blaney’s Style

13880257_10154124814713145_7972100677302491754_nRyan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will be back on the road this weekend, road racing at historic Watkins Glen in New York.

The Wood Brothers and their No. 21 Fords have a history of running well at the Glen. In their first trip there, back in 1965, the late Marvin Panch took the lead on Lap 12 and led the remaining 53 laps to take the victory over Ned Jarrett, Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough.

NASCAR left the Glen after that race and didn’t return until 1986, when Kyle Petty drove the Woods’ car to a ninth-place finish. In 1991, Dale Jarrett finished fifth in the No. 21, and the next year, Morgan Shepherd scored a runner-up finish in the No. 21 behind Kyle Petty, who drove for Felix Sabates at that time.

Michael Waltrip had a seventh-place finish in 1996, and Ricky Rudd was eighth in 2004.

In 2008, Marcos Ambrose drove from the 43rd starting position to third at the finish.

The Woods did not compete at the Glen again until last year when their current driver, Ryan Blaney, finished 19th in his Glen debut.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he expects Blaney to be much improved at the Glen this year.

“Ryan finished ninth at Sonoma earlier this year, and Watkins Glen, with its higher speeds, probably suits his driving style better,” Wood said. “I think a top-10 finish is a reasonable goal, and of course it would be good to get some stage points as well. With this being a road race anything can happen given the different strategies that will be used.”

Blaney has been able to finish in the top 10 at the end of at least one the first two stages in 16 of the 21 races so far this season, thereby earning 152 bonus points that likely will be key factors in the final points standings.

He has earned points in both of the first two stages in 11 races and has three stage wins including a victory in the first Pocono race.

“Our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusions have qualified well and had speed all year,” Wood said. “We’re looking for another strong performance on Sunday.”

Qualifying at Watkins Glen is set for Sunday at 12:05 p.m., and the 90-lap, 220.5-mile race is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. with TV coverage for both events on NBCSN.

Fender Bender Spoils Pocono Run For Blaney, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team

5f9f34c485782d4738145cddd482ef70-1Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team got off to a fast start on Sunday at the Pocono Raceway. Blaney qualified fifth for the 400-mile run, then finished the first 50-lap Stage in fifth place, earning six bonus points.

But 10 laps into Stage Two, Blaney was involved in a fender-bender just after a restart. The damage to the right front of the No. 21 Fusion wasn’t race-ending, but it did require two trips to pit road for repairs.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team lost two laps in the process and were unable to overcome the setback. He finished 30th, still two laps behind. Nonetheless, he remains 12th in the championship points standings.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the varying pit strategies employed by lead-lap teams at Pocono effectively took away any chance of his team taking the wave-around and regaining a lost lap.

“It almost worked at the end of Stage Two, but some of the leaders pitted before the end of the stage and then didn’t pit when the caution flag flew, so we were trapped two laps down,” he said.

Wood pointed out that even after the repairs, the No. 21 Fusion was running good lap times.

f1ffdf6fca174783e90929496c7eb4bc-1 “The car was fast even after the damage,” he said. “We just didn’t have the opportunity to get caught up.”

Sunday’s race was the first of three this season that will see qualifying and the race on the same day, the other two being at Watkins Glen and Martinsville Speedway. Wood said he was encouraged by the fan reaction to the new format.

“There was a good crowd here, especially in the infield and on pit road before the race,” he said. “It just didn’t work out for us like we had hoped it would, especially after winning here last month.”

Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team now head to Watkins Glen where the team will get the fifth pick of pit stalls based on their qualifying results from Pocono.

“That’s a little bonus that we wouldn’t have gotten without the new format,” Wood said.

Blaney Going For Not-So-Rare Pocono Sweep

7a743200980c271c263621f4cca9b429-1Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head back to Pocono Raceway this weekend hoping for a repeat of their performance there on June 11 when Blaney scored his first career Cup win and the Wood Brothers’ 99th.

A sweep of the season’s races at Pocono isn’t all that uncommon. Bobby Allison did it in 1982, Bill Elliott followed in 1985, the late Tim Richmond did it in 1986, as did Bobby Labonte in 1999, Jimmie Johnson in 2004, Denny Hamlin in 2006 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2014.

“If we were to pull it off on Sunday that would put us in a pretty nice group to be in,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion.

Wood pointed out that also in Blaney’s favor is his strong run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday as Indianapolis and Pocono have similar characteristics including long straightaways and low banking in the turns.

“We had a really fast car at Indy,” Wood said. “We didn’t get the finish we thought we could have there, so we’d like to have a good run and get some points at Pocono.”
With the two Pocono races being just a few weeks apart, the notes from June should apply this time around as well, which gives crew chief Jeremy Bullins a chance to apply what he learned in June as well as what worked well at Indianapolis on Sunday.

Wood cautioned that there are few sure things in the sport, and there’s no guarantee that the No. 21 Fusion will be as fast as it was last month.

“For whatever reason, the second Pocono race is usually different from the first,” he said.

One major difference is in the weekend schedule.

The opening practice session is Saturday at 9 a.m., and the second and final “Happy Hour” practice is at 11:30 on Saturday. Then on Sunday morning, qualifying begins at 11:30 a.m., and the race is scheduled to begin just after 3 p.m. with TV coverage for both qualifying and the race on NBCSN.

Wood Brothers Racing and Paul Menard Team Up Beginning in 2018

Wood Brothers Racing Logo

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STUART, VA (July 26, 2017) – Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest active NASCAR team and one of the winningest teams in series history, and veteran driver Paul Menard, will join forces for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENSC) season, the two parties announced today. The new partnership will see the team continue to compete full time for the coming seasons with Menard driving the legendary No. 21 Ford Fusion.

Menards, the industry-leading home improvement store company, will sponsor the No. 21 Ford for 22 MENCS races.  Additional sponsorship, including plans for long-time partner Motorcraft/Quick Lane, will be announced at a later date.

“It’s fantastic to have the ability to continue to race in the highest level of motorsports full-time and something we look forward to doing with Paul for years to come,” said Eddie Wood. “I know this will allow us to continue to perform as an organization and will give Paul a great opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Paul is not only a great driver with a lot of experience in the Cup Series, but he’s great with partners, which is a big part of what we do these days. We are looking forward to finishing out this season with Ryan (Blaney), going for more wins and maybe even a championship, and continuing that with Paul in 2018.”

Over the course of its history, the Wood Brothers Racing team has amassed 99 MENCS victories, the most recent coming this season with current driver Ryan Blaney at Pocono Raceway. Legendary drivers such as AJ Foyt, David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker and Dale Jarrett have all earned victories for the team. Both Glen and Leonard Wood have been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The team’s relationship with Roush-Yates Engines and the technical partnership with fellow Ford Performance organization, Team Penske, will also continue in 2018.

Menard has competed full-time in MENCS since the 2007 season. He won the 2011 Brickyard 400 at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway and qualified for NASCAR’s Playoffs in 2015. In addition to his Cup Series victory at Indianapolis, Menard has also earned three NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) wins over the course of his career.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic No. 21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do,” said Menard. “I’m looking forward to working with the team, working with Roush Yates, Ford Performance and Team Penske to see what we can do. Ryan (Blaney) has done a fantastic job and is a constant threat to run up front. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and keep the momentum going into 2018 and beyond.”

In addition, Menard will run a handful of NXS races for Team Penske beginning in 2018.

The 2018 MENCS season will begin Feb. 18 with the 60th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

 

Wood Brothers Racing

Wood Brothers Racing was formed in 1950 in Stuart, Va., by Hall of Famer Glen Wood. Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team and one of the winningest teams in NASCAR history. Since its founding, the team won 99 races (including at least one race in every decade for the last seven decades) and 117 poles in NASCAR’s top-tier series. Fielding only Ford products for its entire history, the Wood Brothers own the longest association of any motorsports team with a single manufacturer. Glen’s brother, Leonard, is known for inventing the modern pit stop. The team currently runs the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion driven by Ryan Blaney in the famous No. 21 racecar.

About Menards
With 306 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it’s no wonder their famous slogan – “SAVE BIG MONEY” – is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right – the company’s strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere. For more information, visit www.menards.com.