Wood Broth­ers reach­ing for new heights

Blaney could bring team its 1st driver champin­ship

The Arizona Republic - - Azcentral Sports - SPE­CIAL FOR USA TO­DAY SPORTS CHUCK BUR­TON/AP

MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Glen Wood, 92-year-old pa­tri­arch of the Wood Broth­ers Rac­ing team, one of eight left in the race for the Mon­ster En­ergy NASCAR Cup Se­ries cham­pi­onship, hasn’t been ac­tively in­volved in the sport since he re­tired in the 1980s.

That doesn’t mean, how­ever, that Wood, a mem­ber of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has lost in­ter­est. Quite the op­po­site.

Wood video­tapes — yes, he still uses video­tapes — ev­ery Cup race, ex­am­ines each one thor­oughly and pro­vides feed­back to his sons, Ed­die and Len, who now run the team Glen Wood started in 1950.

“He watches ev­ery race,” Ed­die Wood said Satur­day. “He ac­tu­ally still tapes them. I’m not talk­ing about with a DVR; I’m talk­ing about with the VCR. He’s still got a ma­chine, and he’ll go back and an­a­lyze it and talk to us about it.

“We ran out of fuel some­where, and he was like, ‘Did you all think you were at Dar­ling­ton?’ It’s a mile-and-a-half and you can run longer there, so he keeps up with it just as much as we do.”

Wood Broth­ers driver Ryan Blaney is one of eight driv­ers re­main­ing in the play­off field. The first race in the third round is sched­uled for Sun­day af­ter­noon at Martinsville Speed­way, the Woods’ “home” track.

The Wood Broth­ers won the Cup team cham­pi­onship in 1963 but own no driver ti­tles, in part be­cause they ran par­tial sched­ules for many years. Blaney, 23, is in po­si­tion to bring home a cham­pi­onship for one of NASCAR’s old­est teams. Few would have pre­dicted the No. 21 would make the fi­nal eight.

“I think ev­ery­one on the team just wanted to go out and do our best and do what we could to our full ca­pa­bil­ity, and what­ever hap­pens hap­pens, whether that’s win­ning a race or how­ever far we go in the rounds,” Blaney said. “We just kind of take it week to week. That’s per­son­ally how I look at it. We go do our best, and the rest will work it­self out.”

“I don’t re­ally want to chalk it up as a suc­cess­ful or un­suc­cess­ful sea­son yet, and we’ll kind of see how we go, but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s prob­a­bly the most fun I’ve ever had rac­ing this whole year, no mat­ter what hap­pens, but hope­fully we can keep go­ing the next month or so.”

Al­though Toy­ota has dom­i­nated the play­offs, Blaney said Ford teams have lifted their game.

“I think the past cou­ple months we’ve got­ten our cars bet­ter as far as Fords in gen­eral,” he said. “I think we’ve all made gains, es­pe­cially the 4 (Kevin Har­vick) car. He’s been re­ally fast, so there are a hand­ful of us that have made re­ally big gains and, hope­fully, we’re peak­ing at the right time to where we can re­ally cap­i­tal­ize on the speed in our cars and try to ad­vance and make it to Home­stead.”

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