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Wood Brothers Racing and Paul Menard Team Up Beginning in 2018

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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.

 

Pearson’s First Drive For The Wood Brothers Ended In Victory Lane

IMG_6106Of the 98 career Sprint Cup victories scored by the Wood Brothers, most have come as no real surprise as the team has a history of fielding fast Fords and employing some of the sport’s greatest drivers.

But some of those victories were rather surprising. Over the next several weeks, Wood Brothers Racing will look back at some of its more memorable unexpected triumphs.

A win by David Pearson at Darlington Raceway, where he is considered by many to be the all-time master of the track with 10 Cup victories, might not be altogether unexpected. But his third Darlington win, and his first driving for the Wood Brothers, did come as a bit of a surprise to many.

Entering that 1972 season, many changes were occurring in NASCAR. The automobile manufacturers that have participated in NASCAR for decades were basically on the sidelines that year. A new series sponsor, Winston, was pumping money into the sport, but there were few lucrative sponsors at that time to help participating teams pay the bills.

The year before, Pearson had left Holman-Moody rather than take a pay cut. He signed on with a Pontiac team backed by businessman Chris Vallo, who seemed for a time to have an unlimited supply of cash to spend but was soon gone from the sport.

By the time the 1972 season got under way, Pearson, at age 37, hadn’t won a superspeedway race in nearly two years. He was essentially out of a ride despite 60 career victories and three championships. Some were wondering whether his best years were behind him.

But when Glen Wood started looking around for a driver to replace A.J. Foyt, who had been running the No. 21 but was scheduled to switch his primary focus back to the Indy car racing, Pearson was No. 1 on his list.

IMG_6105Pearson and Wood had known each other for years, and although there were some hard feelings for a time over an incident at Bristol Motor Speedway during the 1965 Valleydale 500, relations were good by the time 1972 rolled around.

Wood recalled that the earlier trouble started when Marvin Panch, driving for the Woods, and Pearson, at the wheel of Cotton Owens’ Dodge, crashed hard racing for fifth place after just eight laps.

“It had rained, and the track was really slick and you just couldn’t pass,” Wood said. “David made a move on Marvin, and they both went head-on into the wall off Turn Four.”

Once the cars were cleared, Wood and Pearson had a pit area “discussion” about what had just happened.

“David said: ‘You don’t think I did that on purpose, do you?’” Wood said. “I told him I didn’t, but I did say that I thought he used poor judgment.

“Pearson took it seriously and didn’t speak to me for a long time.”

IMG_6104Wood eventually took steps to reconcile the differences.

“I thought that two grown people who saw each other frequently shouldn’t act like that, so I started speaking to him every time I saw him, and soon everything was all right and we put it behind us.”

Pearson’s first race for the Wood Brothers was the 1972 Rebel 400 at Darlington. While most new pairings take several weeks – or even a season – to gel, Pearson and the Woods hit the track with a performance that made it look as if they’d been together for years.

Pearson won the pole for that race, led 202 of 293 laps and was a lap ahead of second-place Richard Petty at the finish.

His two-year superspeedway winless streak came to a quick end.

“Sometimes it takes some time to get to know one another, but I can’t say I was surprised to win the first time out with David,” Wood said.

That first win together was a sign of good things to come as Pearson went on to win 42 more races at the wheel of a Wood Brothers’ Ford or Mercury, none of which were considered much of a surprise to anyone.

No. 21 SKF Ford Team Planning To Leave It All On the Track in Regular-Season Finale At Richmond

SKFThe No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford Fusion, with Ryan Blaney at the wheel, will hit the track at Richmond International Speedway this weekend with a new look representing technical partner SKF, the leading global supplier of friction-reducing solutions for industrial and transportation applications.

Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 is expected to be one of the more dramatic races so far this year as it’s the finale of the 26-race regular season and the last chance for teams like the SKF Ford team to earn a berth in the championship-deciding Chase for the Sprint Cup.

For the team’s crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, a trip to Richmond brings mixed emotions.

“It’s been a place of both triumph and struggle for me,” he said. “As a race engineer and crew chief, I’ve probably been a part of more wins there than any other track, but there have been plenty of races that were struggles, and I left scratching my head.”
The spring Richmond race with Blaney and the No. 21 Wood Brothers team was no exception there.

“We felt like we had a good car in Happy Hour, but it just didn’t translate into the race for us,” Bullins said. “We struggled most of the day before making it some better by the end. That said, it was our first race there as a team, and we’ll chalk that up to a learning experience and move on.”

The No. 21 SKF team, with both Blaney and Bullins being rookies in the Cup series, has matured over the five months since they’ve raced at Richmond, and Bullins is confident the team will be more competitive this weekend.

“For every race that didn’t go well, it seemed like we were able to recover by the next one, so here’s to hoping that trend continues,” Bullins said. “For us, obviously some bad luck over the summer has us on the outside looking in for the Chase, needing a win this weekend to advance.

“I know we will leave it all on the track in an effort to do so, but regardless of the outcome I’m proud of where this team is headed. Last week’s recovery at Darlington, coming from two laps down, damage from a flat tire, and finishing 13th on the lead lap, is the effort you need to be a contender in this sport.”

Saturday’s race at Richmond marks the first of two appearances of the SKF Ford Fusion this season, the second coming at Phoenix International Raceway in November.

At Richmond, the iconic No. 21 also will carry the colors of Motion Industries, a key distributor partner for SKF. The Motion Industries logo will adorn the hood of the SKF Fusion.

Last year, SKF partnered with Blaney and the Wood Brothers in three events. In 2014, Blaney and Bullins made their first-ever Sprint Cup starts at Kansas Speedway, where Blaney finished 27th in a race that also was Bullins’ first race as a Cup crew chief. SKF returned later that season to Blaney’s No. 12 Ford Fusion at Talladega where he started fourth, led 15 laps and finished 22nd.

SKF, like the Wood Brothers, has a rich racing heritage, with sponsorships at all levels of motorsports. For more than 18 years, SKF has partnered with NASCAR as both a sponsor and technical partner.  More recently, the past five years have been spent as both a sponsor and technical partner with Team Penske, who also have a technical alliance with the Wood Brothers since the beginning of the 2015 season.

SKF has helped Team Penske achieve multiple wins across NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. Beyond NASCAR racing, SKF provides their knowledge and technical expertise to the No. 3 of Helio Castroneves in the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Scuderia Ferrari Racing team of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen in the Formula 1 Series.

Like the Wood Brothers, SKF has connections to the pioneering days of auto racing. The Woods ran their first Sprint Cup race in 1953 and were racing even before that.

Years earlier, Chicago Rawhide, the sealing pioneer which SKF purchased in 1990, sponsored cars in the Indianapolis 500. In 1937, Herb Ardinger started on the front row in the No. 54 Chicago Rawhide Offy, SC.

Qualifying for the Federated Auto Parts 400 is set for Friday, Sept. 9 at 5:45 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 with TV coverage on NBCSN.

About SKF
SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services which include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. SKF is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 15,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2015 were $ 8.9 billion (usd) and the number of employees was 46,635. www.skf.com

Rainy Days Ahead In Pocono

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, KansasLast season, when rain was forecast for the day Sprint Cup teams were set to qualify, there was a sense of dread around the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team. Running a part-time schedule at that time and with no owner points to fall back on, Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion missed three races as a result of wet weather and cancelled qualifying.

Rain is in the forecast for this Friday at Pocono Raceway, but Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team won’t have to worry about missing the race as there are just 40 entries for the 40 starting spots.

Still crew chief Jeremy Bullins is formulating a contingency plan in case showers do arrive at Pocono on Friday.

“You certainly can’t think of going to Pocono without expecting rain in the forecast, and this week looks no different,” Bullins said. “I hope that’s not the case as being Ryan’s first Cup start there we’d like to have all the practice we can get.”

Pocono is much different from the other venues on the Sprint Cup circuit due to the length and layout of the track.

Pocono Raceway covers 2.5 miles, with three distinct turns. Turn one, with 14 degrees of banking, was copied from the old Trenton Speedway in New Jersey. Turn two, better known as the tunnel turn, is banked nine degrees and patterned after Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while turn three, at six degrees, is made like the Milwaukee Mile.

Because of the difference in banking, and relatively low banking overall, combined with the shortness of the turns compared to the straightaways, speeds are slower than on oval tracks of the same length or shorter. The track record at Pocono, set in 2014 by Kyle Larson, is 183.438 miles per hour.

Even if it rains this weekend, Blaney won’t be completely without experience on the Tricky Triangle. He won a Camping World Truck Series race there in 2013 driving for Brad Keselowski Racing.

“It’s a track he’s had success at in the truck series, so that should help our learning curve,” Bullins said. “As long as rain doesn’t shorten Friday’s practice we will start in race trim to get a rhythm before swapping over to make some mock qualifying runs.

“That change takes 20-30 minutes, so if rain looks to affect that practice we will be in qualifying trim the whole time and count on Ryan to make the most of it.”

Bullins also will be making his Cup debut at Pocono, although like Blaney he has some experience there in the past. Bullins’ previous Pocono experience was as an engineer.

“Personally I love Pocono because of the strategy,” he said. “If you’re close enough to the leaders, you can pit without getting lapped which allows you to use a road-course strategy.”

That means stopping as soon as Blaney can make it to the end of the race, even if it means making a green-flag stop, which at most tracks would be a risky move.

“You pit as soon as you can make it to the end of the race on fuel and hope the caution comes out before everyone else pits so you can leap frog them while they are on pit road,” Bullins said. “All in all, it should be a fun weekend for us and a good challenge, racing somewhere with Ryan for the first time.”

Qualifying for the Axalta 400 is set for Friday at 4:15 p.m. and the race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.

Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Back On Familiar Turf In Texas

2016 NASCAR MartinsvilleAfter running three consecutive races at tracks they’d never before competed on in Sprint Cup competition, Ryan Blaney and Jeremy Bullins now begin a stretch of races in which they have Cup experience.

The first visit to familiar territory is this weekend as the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew returns to Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500.

“Texas is one track we are certainly looking forward to going to,” Bullins said. “We had fast cars there last year but struggled through some issues that kept us from getting good finishes. We feel like we have a really good baseline and are getting more comfortable with the set-up changes we need to make for the low-downforce package.”

It’s also a return to an intermediate track, where the rookies Blaney and Bullins have the most experience together.

The last time on a mile-and-a-half track, they finished a season-best sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Vegas was a great example of how that experience paid dividends for Ryan and this Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, and we feel like this weekend should be no different,” Bullins said.

It’s also a relief for Blaney and Bullins to have a stretch of racing at unfamiliar tracks behind them.

“We knew that would be a challenge, but we are also pleased with how we responded as a group,” Bullins said of the first six races of the season, which saw the team race at four tracks they’d never raced on in Cup before. “Probably Ryan’s toughest challenge was Atlanta. That race featured one of the longest green flag runs we have ever seen during that race.”

“A 500-mile race at Atlanta is a physical and mental grind for a driver, and we were in position to finish 12th or 13th before getting caught up in a last-lap crash.”

Phoenix was much better for the team as Blaney and Bullins improved the handling of their Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion throughout the race and finished 10th, his second top-10 finish of the season.

“Considering we only ran a couple of short tracks during our partial season last year, this was particularly satisfying,” Bullins said.
The Auto Club 400 at Fontana, Calif., was another first-time challenge that the team overcame.

“Fontana is one of the few tracks where Ryan had never raced anything before,” Bullins said. “A lot of places he’s been in a truck or Xfinity car, but our first mock qualifying run in practice was his first laps around the two-mile track.”

2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Martinsville“Once again he showed his maturity, allowing us to treat the weekend like we have been together for years, starting practice in qualifying trim and turning in a top-15 qualifying effort.

“Like Atlanta, we were shaping up to have another top-10 or top-15 finish before a cut tire ended our day. While that was disappointing, the speed we had during that race was encouraging moving forward.”

Through it all, including the most recent race at Martinsville Speedway, the team has maintained its consistency, and Blaney heads into the Duck Commander 500 15th in the Sprint Cup standings.

The upcoming portion of the schedule offers encouragement as well.

“Looking ahead to Texas, Kansas, Bristol and Talladega, all tracks we raced at in 2015, we feel like we will make big gains and have strong runs with the experience we are taking into those events,” Bullins said. “When you combine that with our steady performances at first-time events I’m proud of how solid our team has been.”

Running well also makes the hard work of preparing for races seem well worth the effort.

“We are really having a lot of fun so far this season,” Bullins said. “We have had fast cars each week, and Ryan has done a great job everywhere we have been.

“Our pit crew is really starting to click as well. I feel like we can put together a strong stretch of races as we head into the summer months.”

Qualifying for the Duck Commander 500 is set for 2:45 p.m. eastern time on Friday, and the race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on FOX.

Daytona Rain Ends Wood Brothers’ Seven-Year Streak of Qualifying Success

2015 NASCAR DaytonaRyan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion won’t be in Sunday’s Coke Zero 400, but it’s not because of a lack of performance on the part of Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.  Instead it’s Mother Nature who has been unusually kind to the team in recent seasons. On Saturday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, threatening skies led NASCAR officials to cancel qualifying and set the field according to the rules that give the allotted starting spots to teams that run full-time.  Under the current format, the lineup is set based on the previous day’s first practice speeds, with the fastest car in qualifying starting first and so on.  The field is predetermined before the lineup is set; however, based on the number of race attempts each team has made, with the cars making the most attempts eligible before the ones that have run less.  It’s the first time the Wood Brothers have failed to qualify for a race for any reason since the team went to a part-time status seven years ago.

“I really hate this for Motorcraft/Quick Lane and all of our guests,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “We’ve been lucky. This is the first time this has happened since we started part time in 2009. We’ve dodged a lot of bullets, including last time in Michigan.”

“This one got us, but if it has to happen, I’d rather it be for something we can’t control instead of for a lack of performance on our part.”

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion had showed good speed in practice at Daytona, as Blaney posted the ninth-best time in Friday’s final practice.
But, as they have throughout their seven decades in NASCAR, the Woods are looking forward to their next opportunity rather than dwelling on the disappointment of Daytona.

“We’ll go ahead and get home a day early and get ready for Kentucky,” Wood said.

Among the few bright spots on an otherwise gloomy afternoon was the fact that the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has a proven superspeedway car ready to go for the next restrictor-plate race, at Talladega Superspeedway in October.

“I love racing at Daytona and Talladega,” Wood said. “And if there’s a positive side to this, it’s that we know we’ll have a fast car for Talladega.”
That prospect is even more exciting given the fact that Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team contended for the win and finished fourth at Talladega earlier this year.

The rookie Blaney hasn’t been around the sport nearly as long as the Woods, but he too showed maturity in his comments about missing the race.
“This is the bad part about running part time,” he said. “Our next race is Kentucky and I’m looking forward to that one.”

Blaney and the Wood Brothers will compete in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, July 11.

Vote For Our Local Hero, Jared Weiland

Last week I asked everyone to vote for our dear friend, Jared Weiland, in a contest to win a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.  I wrote a short post on Facebook, asking our fan’s to help by voting for him. However, a short post on Facebook was not enough to describe what Jared means to our family and the entire Patrick County community. Truth is, it is impossible to put into words the inspiration and light that Jared brings to us all.

I first want to explain the contest because it is for a great cause and one that I feel needs more attention.  Jared is featured in the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Associations Local Hero contest, in which four wheelchair accessible vehicles will be awarded to the winners. This contest is part of National Mobility Awareness Month and is geared to recognize the perseverance of those living with physical challenges and increase awareness of solutions to increase independence.  The top 10% of vote earners will advance to the second round of the contest which will be judged by a panel of mobility specialists. The winners will then be selected based on their efforts to make the most of their lives in a positive and uplifting way and their need for an adaptive vehicle.  Voters can vote once a day for their local hero! Now, the most important part of my blog post, the reason why Jared Weiland is our local hero.

Jared is a very very close friend of mine and has been since high school. Our senior year of high school, Jared suffered a stroke that was caused from an AVM.  This immediately changed his life and his family’s life forever. His full story is posted here http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/jared-weiland-stuart-va/ .  I encourage everyone to watch the quick video that helps tell the story of this unbelievably strong and inspirational man.

I do not want this post to be out me but I wanted to share with you what Jared means to me, in hopes that you will see how deserving he is to be the winner of this contest. I remembering sitting at the lunch table with Jared the day he had to stroke, hours before it occurred. I also remember hearing that something had happened to him and the many nights after, waiting by the phone with friends to hear updates on how he was doing. But what I remember most are the months and years after the stroke, the inspiration and strength that Jared has shown me and all of our friends. All our life’s have changed tremendously since then but one thing has stayed consistent, Jared Weiland is still one of our best friends.  Jared has always had an outgoing, yet some-times sarcastic ;), loving personality and he makes us all better just by being present in a room.

Did I mention that he is a major Wood Brothers fan? I am sure many of you will argue his position as #1 Wood Brothers fan but he will put up a good fight for that spot! As soon as the checkered flag waved at Talladega this past weekend, my phone was ringing and it was Jared calling to tell me Congrats on the good finish. Jared has been one of the first ones in line to attend all of the events at Wood Brothers Racing Museum. From the 2011 Daytona 500 autograph session, to less grandiose events such as the Wood Brothers street dedication, the viewing of the 2011 Daytona 500 car and other open house events, Jared has been present in his 21 gear. The difference in Jared’s attendance in comparison to our other dedicated fans is Jared is always in a wheelchair.  Jared Weiland is more than a best friend to me, he is my hero and I plan to vote for him every day to win this contest!

Help him win by voting here once a day! For an extra vote, answer the “Extra Vote” question correctly and then place your vote!

VOTE HERE!

http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/jared-weiland-stuart-va/

~ Jordan

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Lessons with Leonard Wood – The Backseater

The Backseater is another one of the Wood Brother’s famous innovations. Back in the old Modified days, rules were much more liberal than today. By moving the engine rearward in the car, the teams could get more rear grip and thus more acceleration off the corners. In order to gain a competitive advantage, Glen Wood and his brother Leonard kept moving the engine back in their 1937 Ford until the driver was sitting in the back seat of the car.

A replica of the back seat racer is at the Wood Brothers Racing Museum in Stuart, Va. In the video below, Leonard Wood gives a brief description of the racer!