BRISTOL, Tenn. — official team release — Matthew T. Thacker/NKP photo —
Over the years, the Wood Brothers have focused their attention on NASCAR’s biggest, fastest tracks.
However, they’ve also run 65 races on the half-mile oval at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Ryan Blaney will drive the No. 21 SKF Ford Fusion in Saturday’s 500-lap IRWIN Tools Night Race.
Bristol marks the second of three races this season that the No. 21 Ford will carry the SKF sponsorship. The first, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month, saw Blaney post the third-fastest speed in final practice and run as high as sixth in the race. The final race for the No. 21 SKF Ford Fusion will come at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 20.
For the Wood Brothers, returning to Bristol after a four-year absence is like a homecoming of sorts. Team co-owner Eddie Wood said his family’s race team was a regular participant at Bristol back in the day because races there were considered among the more prestigious on the circuit.
“It’s the same today,” Wood said. “We haven’t been there since 2011, and we’re looking forward to being back.”
Wood said his team’s return to Bristol is a much anticipated one now that the Woods have an alliance with Team Penske, which has run exceptionally well at Bristol over the years and especially in the past few races there. Roger Penske has 11 Cup wins at Bristol, and Team Penske’s two current drivers, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, finished 1-2 in last year’s night race.
The Woods’ driver Ryan Blaney has found success there as well, winning in both XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races, including last year’s Food City 300 where he beat Kyle Busch, winning in a Team Penske Mustang.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend,” Wood said. “Even though we’ve won the spring race before, we seem to race better in the night race. Still, a lot of things can happen there. You need to stay out of other people’s troubles and try to not have any of your own.”
“It’s kind of like going off to war when the race starts because the biggest thing is trying to survive until the end.”
CREDIT: Wood Brothers Racing