For Eddie Wood, co-owner of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, a 19th-place finish in the 58th running of the Daytona 500 isn’t the only yardstick to use in judging the team’s trip to Daytona Speedweeks 2016.
On track, Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team showed speed throughout, starting with a seventh-place run in pole qualifying, which assured the team of a starting berth in the Great American Race. Then, in Thursday’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races, Blaney bounced back from a lap down midway through the race to finish a strong third.
And in the 500, he ran at the front of the pack, in the top 10 and top 15, for much of the race before a four-tire pit stop left him mired deep in the pack, without many opportunities to work his way back to the front.
“We had only planned to change two tires on that last green flag stop, but after we slid the tires entering the pits, we decided to take the time to change four,” Wood said, explaining that there was too much at stake if the tires were flat-spotted. After that it was tough to move forward because the bottom line was the fastest, and any time he went to the middle or the top there wasn’t enough momentum there to get back in the top 10.
“I don’t know if we had a winning car, but it was a top-10 car for sure. A 19th-place finish isn’t spectacular, but it’s respectable. It’s the best we’ve finished in the 500 since we won in 2011.”
Off the track, the Wood Brothers and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had one of the most memorable Speedweeks in years, as fans, fellow competitors, members of the media and others were vocal; both on social media and in other ways, in their support of the No. 21 team after it was announced that they would not be receiving one of the charters that went to team owners in the Cup Series.
“It was a very interesting and humbling week,” Wood said. “It really brought us a lot closer to our fans. They really rallied behind us. It was a humbling experience.”
And Speedweeks meant the Woods got to spend time with their friends and long-time supporters at Ford Motor Company, a group that included Edsel B. Ford, great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, and his son Henry Ford III.
“They were both on our pit box for the 500,” Wood said. “It was good to get to spend some quality time with them.”
Lastly, Speedweeks at Daytona would not be the same without an appearance by Glen Wood, the Hall of Fame founder of the No. 21 team. Mr. Wood spent Speedweeks at Daytona for the 70th straight year.
Now the team heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway, where the team has 12 victories over the years. Unlike recent seasons in which the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team often did not run the second race of the season, this year the team will enter every race, which gives Atlanta a little different feel for Wood and his teammates.
“It’ll be good to get back to Atlanta and get back in the groove,” he said.
Wood Brothers Racing PR