As Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team prepare to race in this weekend’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., there are several reasons for them to be optimistic.
For starters, Blaney is solidly in the top 10 in Cup points after the first four races of the season, and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion has shown good speed each week this season with third- and second-place starts in the past two races.
Then there’s the Wood Brothers’ history in the state of California, where the team has won 10 races, 12 poles and scored 32 top-five finishes. They’ve accomplished that with some of auto racing’s greatest drivers behind the wheel of their iconic No. 21 Ford.
Two of the tracks where the Woods have had the most success are in the same general vicinity as the speedway in Fontana.
Riverside International Raceway, a 2.6-mile road course that was a regular Cup stop from 1958-1988, was about 30 miles from the Fontana track. Ontario Motor Speedway, a 2.5-mile oval that hosted Cup races from 1971-1980, was about 10 miles away.
At Riverside the Woods won seven times, four with Dan Gurney driving and three more with David Pearson. At Ontario, A.J. Foyt won twice in the No. 21, with Pearson also winning one.
The list of drivers who scored top-five finishes at those two tracks reads like a Who’s Who of American Motorsports. In addition to Foyt, Pearson and Gurney, it includes Curtis Turner, Cale Yarborough, Marvin Panch, Dave MacDonald, Neil Bonnett and Kyle Petty.
The Woods also have a runner-up finish on the road course at Sonoma with Ricky Rudd driving.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that even though his team hasn’t had the success at Auto Club in recent seasons that it did on the other tracks nearby, he believes racing history has a way of repeating itself.
“I feel really good going to California,” Wood said. “Racing here has been good to the Wood family for a long time, and now that we’re off to a pretty good start this year, we’d like to be able to add Ryan Blaney’s name to the list of drivers who have had wins and good finishes for us in California.”
Qualifying for the Auto Club 400 is set for Friday at 4:05 p.m. (7:05 Eastern Time), and the race should get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday (3:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.