NASCAR’s return to the old Darlington Raceway to run the Southern 500 on its traditional Labor Day weekend date turned out to be a bigger success than anyone dreamed.
An unusually large crowd turned out for the race. There were special paint schemes, including a mosaic-style one on the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Snap-on Ford.
The Woods showed up in old-school uniforms, with original team members Leonard and Delano Wood on pit road for the start of the race, holding the same pit boards the team used for most of its eight Darlington victories. A contingent of NASCAR Hall of Famers was in attendance, and broadcasters Ken Squire and Ned Jarrett, both now in their 80s, took turns calling the race on NBC.
Once the green flag flew, the racing on the Lady In Black was old-style Darlington, with a low-downforce aerodynamic package leading to drivers slipping and sliding on the track. More than a few earning a famed Darlington stripe on the right side of their cars after contact with the outside wall.
Unfortunately for the Snap-on team, rookie Ryan Blaney, after running around the top 15 for much of the first 100 laps, earned his first Darlington stripe. That led to the team falling four laps behind the leaders. They made up two of those, but still wound up 30th at the finish.
Although the race saw an unusually high 18 caution periods, there were limited opportunities for the Snap-on team to take the wave-around and thereby try to regain lost laps.
“With the leaders being on different pit strategies, there weren’t many chances to take the wave-around,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood.
But Wood said that the opportunity for his team to be back at Darlington for the first time since 2008 and to participate in the throwback weekend activities, made the disappointing outcome for his team easier to accept.
“It was like it used to be here at Darlington,” he said. “It was old-school racing like the Southern 500s of the past.”
Wood said he was proud for his team to be able to represent Snap-on at Darlington.
“It was an honor to be here with Snap-on, which has such a long history itself, on a weekend in which the history of the sport was celebrated,” he said. “Snap-on has a lot in common with us and with NASCAR and Darlington.”
Blaney and the Wood Brothers will return to the Sprint Cup Series in two weeks for the MyAfibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, where the No. 21 Ford Fusion will carry the colors of sponsor SKF.
Wood Brothers Racing PR
Early Darlington Stripe Relegates Blaney, Snap-on Ford To 30th-Place Finish At The Lady In Black
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