62 AUGUST 2017
NASCAR’S ENDURING PIONEERS
I had with Edsel Ford,” says Eddie. “It was
a year or so before we got him and Edsel
said, ‘What about this Ryan Blaney kid?
He looks pretty good. You need to be
thinking about him.’ About six months
later, a deal developed through Ford. It
suited us just right because having
rookies – well, that wasn’t new to us.”
On the eve of the 2016 season, it was
announced that the No. 21 car would run
a full 36-race schedule once again. Still
honing his Cup chops, Blaney performed
strongly, earning three top- 5 and nine
top- 10 finishes. Eddie Wood was impressed.
“He really fit in well with us,” he says.
“But he’d fit in well anywhere, he’s that
kind of kid. He’s very respectful and he
likes the history of racing, which kind of
falls in line with us. He’s got a little old
school in him and that fits us really well.”
Blaney, a third generation racer and
son of Cup series journeyman driver
Dave, has not only grown and prospered
with the Wood Bros., but fully comprehends
what the organization is all about.
“Growing up in the garage, you noticed
them and appreciated all they’d done,” he
says. “They really stand for what NASCAR
was like back in the 1960s and ’70s and
I like my racing history, so it’s really neat
to have all that with those guys.”
Sunday, June 11, 2017, at the
Pocono 400, it all came right as 23-year-
old Blaney made his own piece of Wood
Brothers Racing history when he beat off
the advances of 2014 champion Kevin
Harvick to win his first Monster Energy
NASCAR Cup Series race. The 19th
different driver to deliver the Woods a
win, Blaney’s was the 99th for the team.
“Ryan’s victory was a very important
accomplishment for Ford and the Wood
Brothers,” says Edsel. “I spoke with Eddie
and Len afterward and they were ecstatic.
From its NASCAR debut, Martinsville in ’ 53, where it ran a Lincoln,
Wood Brothers Racing has been FoMoCo only. (ABOVE) Leonard’s
ability to coax extra power from Blue Oval hardware is legendary.
CUT THEM AND THEY’D BLEED BLUE...
(MAIN) As the guys who pretty
much invented the modern NASCAR
pit stop, it’s only fitting that Wood
Brothers Racing can still hold its
own in a pit road fight for position...