Wood Brothers Eager to Return to Full-Time Racing in '16
Long a part of NASCAR's past, the iconic Wood Brothers Racing team is positioning itself to be a big part of its future with the return of the No. 21 Ford to full-time Sprint Cup Series racing in 2016.
Ford Wednesday's lunch stop on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom highlighted several reasons Ford Performance has to be optimistic about the upcoming year both on the track and off, including unveiling the newly designed Ford Fusion stock car that will debut at the Daytona 500 next month.
"It's every young racers dream, especially me watching my day at the race track for as long as I can remember," said Ryan Blaney, who will make the jump to full-time Sprint Cup Series racing this season. "It's all happened so fast. I've said since November since we announced it, I'm so excited."
Blaney said Wood Brothers Racing has teamed up with Team Penske to help prepare the 22-year-old for the rigors of racing full-time in NASCAR's premier series. Among other support, Blaney has been working with Team Penske's over-the-wall program on strength and conditioning to prepare for the coming season.
"It's a big jump to get back used to it, especially at the Cup level," he said. "Doing the truck series full-time in '13/14, you get a little taste for it, but you're still missing like 14 races. They're a lot longer races (in Cup) than I'm used to being full-time in the truck races, where you were only going 200 miles. But I'm 22, man, I should be OK. I shouldn't fall out of the seat or anything."
Team President and co-owner Eddie Wood said his family is excited to get back to racing and is looking forward to getting into a routine and finding consistency on the track.
"You look back at last year, it was kind of a building year for us," he said. "We had speed everywhere. I hope we can run consistently in the Top 15 and get in the position to win a race or two. I'm looking forward to being back."
Ford Performance officials also took the opportunity to tout the 2017 production Ford Fusion and talk about the success of the new Ford Technical Support Center has had in creating state-of-the-art vehicles for consumers.
"There's no doubt that this facility is allowing us to develop state-of-the-art tools and train our teams to be nimble, be quick and learn how to apply it to production vehicles," said Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance. "Of course, we're using it to help our drivers on Sunday, but more importantly we're developing those tools for the long term."
PENSKE CELEBRATES 50
The season has yet to get underway, but Team Penske is already in celebration mode. Tom Brokaw provided the voiceover to a commemorative video montage. Legends Rusty Wallace and Rick Mears (IndyCar) sat on the stage, as did contemporary NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. All of which came to celebrate 50 years of Team Penske and put a tidy bow on Ford Wednesday.
"I will be at the races as long as I can stand up. We're here for one reason and that's to win," said team owner Roger Penske. "When you look across the group of guys on my right here, you see the quality and what they've given to our team. We're looking for 2016 to be a great year."
NOTES & QUOTES:
"Richard Petty said to me today, if that ever happens, he can go racing again."
-Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance
On if idea of driver-less production cars could ever lead to driver-less race cars