Wood Brothers going full time in 2016 – Nascar
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Wood Brothers Racing, one of the longest tenured teams competing in NASCAR’s premier series, will return to full-time competition beginning in 2016.
Officials with the team and Ford Motor Co. made the announcement Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of this weekend’s Ford EcoBoost 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) season-ending event.
Ryan Blaney will handle the driving duties, embarking upon his first full season after making 15 starts for the team this year heading into Sunday’s race. Weather issues kept the team from attempting to qualify at Daytona, Kentucky and Chicago earlier this year.
“These are the guys that made it happen, Ford Motor Company,” co-team owner Eddie Wood said. “It is just a lot of people that have been working on this for a long time and we are really proud of our association and heritage with Ford Motor Company. We have been racing Ford Motor Company products for 65 years and we are really looking forward to next year and getting started with that.”
“It is what you dream of as a kid,” Blaney, 21, said. “I have been fortunate enough to get great opportunities and meet great people being with Team Penske in 2012 which led to the Wood Brothers this year and then beyond for next year.
“Obviously it is a little overwhelming right now … knowing what is going to come but I am excited for it. I don’t get excited about a lot of things and maybe I don’t show it but I am really excited about this program for next year and having the opportunity.”
It will be the first time since 2008 that the Wood Brothers organization, founded by team owner Glen Wood in 1953, has attempted to run the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. That season, three drivers — Bill Elliott, Marcos Ambrose and Jon Wood — split the driving duties, although Johnny Sauter made one attempt, failing to qualify at Las Vegas. The last full season with a single-driver for the team came in 2006 with veteran Ken Schrader.
“We were in Pocono … testing for the Pocono race on May 28, 2008,” Wood said. “At about noon that day Mr. Ford called me looking for a phone number. I hadn’t talked to him in a while and he said, ‘I haven’t heard from you in a while, why haven’t you called?’ I told him we had been running so poorly that I had really just been ashamed. He says, ‘So, you are saying this 21 is broken?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it is broken right now.’
“So he said we were going to see about that, that we would fix that. From that day until now, it has been just like this. He put some things in motion that started to help like increased engineering and just more of everything. There were some Ford Motor Company people that … moved in with us and helped get us straightened out and three years later we win the Daytona 500 (with driver Trevor Bayne). You can never give up.”
Wood Brothers entries have visited Victory Lane 98 times, sixth most among active teams and seventh overall. The list of drivers who have won for the team includes NASCAR Hall of Fame members Wood, Curtis Turner (a 2016 inductee), Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Dale Jarrett. Leonard Wood, younger brother of Glen and crew chief for the majority of the team’s victories, is also in the Hall of Fame.
Despite often running a limited schedule, the organization has finished in the top 10 in points 13 times and won the series’ premier event, the Daytona 500, five times.
“I think the timing was perfect for this to all come together,” Edsel Ford II said. “I think with Team Penske‘s help, that kind of motivated us to sort of talk to the Wood Brothers internally … and find out if this was possible. It just all came together this year and fit. It fit perfectly. So why not do it.”
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series schedule consists of 36 points races and two non-points event and runs from February through mid-November. Entering this weekend’s event, 35 teams have competed in all points races contested thus far this season.