HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Wood Brothers Racing , one of the longest tenured teams competing in NASCAR's premier series, will return to full-time competition beginning in 2016. Officials with the team and Ford Motor Co. made the announcement Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of this weekend's Ford EcoBoost 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) season-ending event. Ryan Blaney will handle the driving duties, embarking upon his first full season after making 15 starts for the team this year heading into Sunday's race. Weather issues kept the team from attempting to qualify at Daytona, Kentucky and Chicago earlier this year. "These are the guys that made it happen, Ford Motor Company," co-team owner Eddie Wood said. "It is just a lot of people that have been working on this for a long time and we are really proud of our association and heritage with Ford Motor Company. We have been racing Ford Motor Company products for 65 years and we are really looking forward to next year and getting started with that." The team will continue to have a technical alliance with Team Penske , which fields Sprint Cup entries for drivers Joey Logano and 2012 champion Brad Keselowski . "It is what you dream of as a kid," Blaney, 21, said. "I have been fortunate enough to get great opportunities and meet great people being with Team Penske in 2012 which led to the Wood Brothers this year and then beyond for next year. "Obviously it is a little overwhelming right now … knowing what is going to come but I am excited for it. I don't get excited about a lot of things and maybe I don't show it but I am really excited about this program for next year and having the opportunity." It will be the first time since 2008 that the Wood Brothers organization, founded by team owner Glen Wood in 1953, has attempted to run the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. That season, three drivers -- Bill Elliott , Marcos Ambrose and Jon Wood -- split the driving duties, although Johnny Sauter made one attempt, failing to qualify at Las Vegas. The last full season with a single-driver for the team came in 2006 with veteran Ken Schrader . "We were in Pocono … testing for the Pocono race on May 28, 2008," Wood said. "At about noon that day Mr. Ford called me looking for a phone number. I hadn't talked to him in a while and he said, 'I haven't heard from you in a while, why haven't you called?' I told him we had been running so poorly that I had really just been ashamed. He says, 'So, you are saying this 21 is broken?' and I said, ‘Yeah, it is broken right now.' "So he said we were going to see about that, that we would fix that. From that day until now, it has been just like this. He put some things in motion that started to help like increased engineering and just more of everything. There were some Ford Motor Company people that … moved in with us and helped get us straightened out and three years later we win the Daytona 500 (with driver Trevor Bayne ). You can never give up." Wood Brothers entries have visited Victory Lane 98 times, sixth most among active teams and seventh overall. The list of drivers who have won for the team includes NASCAR Hall of Fame members Wood , Curtis Turner (a 2016 inductee), Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Dale Jarrett. Leonard Wood , younger brother of Glen and crew chief for the majority of the team's victories, is also in the Hall of Fame. Despite often running a limited schedule, the organization has finished in the top 10 in points 13 times and won the series' premier event, the Daytona 500 , five times. "I think the timing was perfect for this to all come together," Edsel Ford II said. "I think with Team Penske 's help, that kind of motivated us to sort of talk to the Wood Brothers internally … and find out if this was possible. It just all came together this year and fit. It fit perfectly. So why not do it." NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series schedule consists of 36 points races and two non-points event and runs from February through mid-November. Entering this weekend's event, 35 teams have competed in all points races contested thus far this season.
After Race 36 of the 2015 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Attempts 1 Joe Gibbs 18 5,043 0 0 3 2 36 2 Tony Stewart 4 5,042 -1 -1 1 -1 36 3 Rick Hendrick 24 5,038 -5 -4 2 -1 36 4 Barney Visser 78 5,032 -11 -6 4 0 36 5 J D Gibbs 19 2,368 -2,675 -2,664 5 0 36 6 Walter Czarnecki 22 2,360 -2,683 -8 6 0 36 7 Roger Penske 2 2,347 -2,696 -13 8 1 36 8 Gene Haas 41 2,333 -2,710 -14 9 1 36 9 J D Gibbs 11 2,327 -2,716 -6 10 1 36 10 Jeff Gordon 48 2,315 -2,728 -12 12 2 36 11 Richard Childress 31 2,314 -2,729 -1 11 0 36 12 Rick Hendrick 88 2,310 -2,733 -4 7 -5 36 13 Felix Sabates 1 2,295 -2,748 -15 13 0 36 14 Joe Gibbs 20 2,291 -2,752 -4 14 0 36 15 Richard Childress 27 2,262 -2,781 -29 15 0 36 16 Rob Kauffman 15 2,175 -2,868 -87 16 0 36 17 Richard Petty 43 940 -4,103 -1,235 17 0 36 18 Linda Hendrick 5 939 -4,104 -1 18 0 36 19 Chip Ganassi 42 900 -4,143 -39 19 0 36 20 Jack Roush 16 869 -4,174 -31 20 0 36 21 Richard Childress 3 832 -4,211 -37 21 0 36 22 Tad Geschickter 47 758 -4,285 -74 23 1 36 23 Bob Germain 13 754 -4,289 -4 22 -1 36 24 Tony Stewart 10 741 -4,302 -13 24 0 36 25 John Henry 17 712 -4,331 -29 25 0 36 26 Richard Petty 9 709 -4,334 -3 26 0 36 27 Margaret Haas 14 695 -4,348 -14 27 0 36 28 Michael Waltrip 55 667 -4,376 -28 28 0 36 29 John Henry 6 655 -4,388 -12 29 0 36 30 Harry Scott Jr. 51 588 -4,455 -67 30 0 36 31 Bob Jenkins 35 553 -4,490 -35 31 0 36 32 Brad Jenkins 38 533 -4,510 -20 32 0 36 33 Michael Hillman 40 481 -4,562 -52 33 0 36 34 Jerry Freeze 34 472 -4,571 -9 34 0 36 35 Joe Falk 33 458 -4,585 -14 35 0 36 36 Tommy Baldwin 7 437 -4,606 -21 36 0 36 37 Ron Devine 83 424 -4,619 -13 37 0 36 38 Harry Scott Jr. 46 383 -4,660 -41 38 0 36 39 Mike Curb 98 309 -4,734 -74 39 0 36 40 Ron Devine 23 302 -4,741 -7 40 0 36 41 Glen Wood 21 300 -4,743 -2 41 0 19 42 Archie St Hilaire 32 268 -4,775 -32 42 0 36 43 Anthony Marlowe 26 252 -4,791 -16 43 0 36 44 Bob Leavine 95 213 -4,830 -39 44 0 20 45 Jay Robinson 62 111 -4,932 -102 45 0 36 46 Rick Hendrick 25 89 -4,954 -22 46 0 5 47 John Cohen 44 12 -5,031 -77 47 0 4 48 Jay Robinson 66 8 -5,035 -4 48 0 4 49 Curtis Key Sr. 30 6 -5,037 -2 49 0 13 50 Robby Benton 129 0 -5,043 -6 51 1 4 51 Sandy Hillman 139 0 -5,043 0 50 -1 2
Team owner Roger Penske's NASCAR XFINITY Series operation last won the driver's championship in 2010 with Brad Keselowski , but the organization's No. 22 team has gone undefeated for three consecutive years when it comes to the owner's title. Ryan Blaney , Sprint Cup Series drivers Keselowski and Joey Logano and road racer Alex Tagliani each piloted the No. 22 Ford this season, collecting seven of the organization's eight wins in the series. "I think it's an investment," Penske said of the XFINITY Series program. "It's an investment on pit road for building guys over the wall, point number one, and point number two, to take a young driver like Blaney and get him in a car. "The top driver is just not available when you need him, so you've got to build him. You've seen what (Jeff) Gordon and (Jimmie) Johnson and all the great drivers (have done)." The No. 22 team ended the season with 1,308 points, 117 ahead of Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 54 Toyota entry and 118 ahead of the No. 60 Ford of Roush Fenway Racing . Roush Fenway Racing driver Chris Buescher clinched the 2015 driver's title. JGR finished second to Penske in '13-14 in the battle for the owner's title as well. Blaney has split his time between the XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, competing in Sprint Cup with Wood Brothers Racing . The No. 21 team will run the full 36-race schedule next season. Team Penske and the Wood Brothers outfit have a technical alliance. "From the standpoint of sponsorship, Discount Tire has been with us almost from the beginning," Penske said. "They like the XFINITY Series. They think it gives them exactly what they want. To me we've got a good sponsor. "We only run one car, occasionally we run two maybe at Watkins Glen , but to me I think it's an important part of our organization. Running two Cup cars and having the ability to work with the ( Wood Brothers) I think helps us build that team, and we can move people back and forth, and then of course with the XFINITY , it's really the early stages of young guys that are coming into the sport and people that can make a difference. "You know, there's just no question that the people have moved up (to Sprint Cup ). Everybody that's at the top level today in our Cup cars have won and worked in the XFINITY Series, so I think that that's amazing when you think about it."
RELATED: Cast your vote today Less than one week remains before voting ends in the annual NMPA Most Popular Driver award, which means it's crucial for NASCAR fans to vote. And they've answered the call recently. Last week saw a 14.9 percent increase in total number of votes cast from the previous week. That number speaks to how deep the passion runs for NASCAR fans -- and also how passionate fans remain digitally savvy. Voting has never been easier, either at www.mostpopulardriver.com or the NASCAR Mobile App. Are you doing your part for your favorite driver? Remember, the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award is the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. Voting ends Nov. 22 at 11:59 p.m. ET, so make sure your voice is heard. Voting is limited to one vote per person per email address per day. The winner of this year's award will be announced during the NBCSN broadcast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards on Dec. 4 in Las Vegas. A $10,000 donation will be made to the winning driver's charity of choice. And just in case you need any extra motivation … Sprint has revealed the top 10 vote-getters thus far. Where is your favorite driver? The list below is in alphabetical order. Kyle Busch Dale Earnhardt Jr . Carl Edwards Jeff Gordon Kevin Harvick Jimmie Johnson Kasey Kahne Matt Kenseth Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Previous winners of the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award: Year – Recipient 2014 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2013 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2012 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2011 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2010 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2009 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2008 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2007 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2006 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2005 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2004 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2003 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2002 – Bill Elliott 2001 – Dale Earnhardt 2000 – Bill Elliott 1999 – Bill Elliott 1998 – Bill Elliott 1997 – Bill Elliott 1996 – Bill Elliott 1995 – Bill Elliott 1994 – Bill Elliott 1993 – Bill Elliott 1992 – Bill Elliott 1991 – Bill Elliott 1990 – Darrell Waltrip 1989 – Darrell Waltrip 1988 – Bill Elliott 1987 – Bill Elliott 1986 – Bill Elliott 1985 – Bill Elliott 1984 – Bill Elliott 1983 – Bobby Allison 1982 – Bobby Allison 1981 – Bobby Allison 1980 – David Pearson 1979 – David Pearson 1978 – Richard Petty 1977 – Richard Petty 1976 – Richard Petty 1975 – Richard Petty 1974 – Richard Petty 1973 – Bobby Allison 1972 – Bobby Allison 1971 – Bobby Allison 1970 – Richard Petty 1969 – Bobby Isaac 1968 – Richard Petty 1967 – Cale Yarborough 1966 – Darel Dieringer 1965 – Fred Lorenzen 1964 – Richard Petty 1963 – Fred Lorenzen 1962 – Richard Petty 1961 – Joe Weatherly 1960 – Rex White 1959 – Jack Smith 1958 – Glen Wood 1957 – Fireball Roberts 1956 – Curtis Turner 1955 – Tim Flock 1954 – Lee Petty 1953 – Lee Petty
Co-owner Len Wood admits team could run full slate, but it would be tough CONCORD, N.C. -- Officials with Wood Brothers Racing said Thursday that the legendary team could run a full 36-race schedule today in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, something the team hasn’t done since 2006. But, said co-owner Len Wood at Charlotte Motor Speedway , "you've got to pay for it. "We could go run 'em all (now), but it wouldn't be pretty. "And with that being said, I don't think you could keep a sponsor like that either." The organization is scheduled to compete in 18 of this year's 36 points races with driver Ryan Blaney . A new three-year package with Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center covers 12 of those events while the affiliation with Team Penske , which began this year, provided the opportunity to add six races. Blaney is a development driver for the Penske group. "We know pretty much where we're going and set our schedule based on where we think we can run the best -- which are the speedways and the intermediates," Wood said. "We try to be more efficient about it. Not have to go buy two sets of short track brakes to go run one short-track race, things like that. "If more races were to come up, then we're ready. We'd get more cars from Team Penske , more parts and away we'd go." Penske, whose group fields Fords for 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano , told the Associated Press last week that he was not interested in expanding Team Penske to three full-time teams. "If we can get sponsorship for (Blaney), that gives him a chance to take a look at extending that through a full season next year. That would be our goal," Penske told the AP. Blaney replaced 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne in the red and white No. 21 Ford when Bayne was named to drive full-time for Roush Fenway Racing this season in the No. 6 Ford. Blaney finished fourth at Talladega earlier this year, one of his four Sprint Cup starts so far this season. Wood Brothers Racing , which has been competing in NASCAR practically since the sanctioning body’s inception in 1949, has 98 wins in more than 1,400 starts. The team was founded by NASCAR Hall of Fame member Glen Wood and originally based in Stuart, Virginia. The affiliation with Team Penske has already provided improved results on the track. "The situation we have with Ryan and Team Penske , when we come to the race track, we feel like we've got a shot every week," Len Wood said. "Not just at the speedways … when we leave the shop we feel like we can win." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Young driver hopes to continue success with crew chief Jeremy Bullins Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge At the venerable age of 21, Ryan Blaney already has a keen sense of history as he makes the next step of his career. Perhaps some of it comes from the rich racing pedigree of his family, with his father, Dave, and uncle Dale qualifying as highly decorated sprint-car drivers. But some influence surely seeped in after the young driver set foot in the Wood Brothers' racing museum in Stuart, Virginia. Blaney is bracing for his first major foray into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, contesting an 18-race schedule for a team celebrating its 65th year in the business. After touring the shop that's made the Woods part of the fabric of the stock-car racing, Blaney had an even better sense of what it means to field the team's famed No. 21. "I've admired them ever since I was a little kid. How could you not admire them?" Blaney said during last month's Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom. "Just looking back at their history and their family tradition of racing, with me coming from some family, too, it's really cool that everyone has really gotten along so far and we can talk about racing. That's all we want to do is race and win. "Just being part of a great organization that's been around for 65 years -- for one, that speaks a lot to them that they've stuck around for 65 years. Just to be a part of that history is amazing." The team's next chapter involves a new driver who already has five victories in NASCAR's other two national series, but also a reunion of sorts for Jeremy Bullins, who will work with Blaney from atop the pit box. Bullins spent four years (1999-2002) in various roles with the Wood Brothers, including race engineer. But he'll also be reunited as a crew chief for Blaney, continuing a partnership that produced two victories in the last two seasons in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Blaney's accomplishments are part of Bullins' impressive record with Team Penske's No. 22 Ford the last three seasons. Juggling a widely varied roster of part-time drivers, Bullins helped guide the team to 21 wins in that stretch and championships the last two seasons in the owners' standings. "The cool thing about what we did the last few years is, when you have the opportunity to work with multiple drivers like that, you learn a lot about the communications side of things, listening to guys explain things," Bullins said. "I hope that's made me better as a crew chief so that the time that Ryan and I spend together, I'll know what to expect. I don't see it as anything but a positive." Blaney said the natural bond between the two comes from their development in the Team Penske mold. That bond becomes richer this season with the advent of a technical alliance between the Wood Brothers and the Penske operation, an agreement that will include pit-crew support on race days. With Blaney and Bullins sticking together, both sides stand to benefit. "Those two guys -- Ryan and Jeremy -- already having time together, that saves you a year," said Eddie Wood , the No. 21 team's co-owner. "It doesn't seem like it could be that much, but they're already ready to race and up to speed. It's just a really good situation for us because they move in and you're beyond the testing and all that stuff, or hoping it's going to work, or hoping they mesh. They already mesh. "I've been around a long time and I used to be not a great believer in the chemistry that people talk about all the time -- I didn't pay much attention to it. It's real." During one of Blaney's visits to the Virginia shop, the names Pearson and Yarborough among countless others rang out, the collection of trophies, the backseat race car that Glen Wood drove -- all part of the organization's lore. If Blaney were to help the team add to its collection of keepsakes, it would help the team inch toward another historic milestone. The Wood Brothers sit at 98 victories at NASCAR's top level, the most recent coming in the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne at the wheel. For now, Blaney is focused on converting victory No. 1 before the team can think about its 100th. "It's really motivation for everybody," Blaney said. "Everyone wants to excel and have success, and that can work out for both of us. No pressure, really. All I see is opportunity and extra motivation to get it done." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Glen Wood and the Wood Brothers continue to make their mark in NASCAR, most recently by winning the 2011 Daytona 500.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Glen Wood
Technical alliance formed with Team Penske RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Ryan Blaney will fill in for Trevor Bayne in the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Friday and Saturday at Michigan International Speedway as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams begin preparations for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400. Next season, Blaney will replace Bayne on a more permanent basis. Blaney, 20, has been named driver for the legendary team beginning in 2015, and will compete in at least 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events. Bayne will move into a full-time role in Sprint Cup with Roush Fenway Racing next season. This weekend, he will be at Mid-Ohio to compete in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200, creating the opening for Blaney to practice and qualify the Sprint Cup car for the Wood Brothers. The opportunity to drive the familiar red and white No. 21 Ford, which has carried some of the sport's most legendary figures to victory lane is "unbelievable," Blaney said. "It's really a dream come true so I couldn't be happier. "I'm ready to finish out this 2014 season very strong, try to go after this Truck championship and I'm really excited and looking forward to '15. I think it'll be a great year for us." Blaney currently competes in the Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing. He is the series' points leader after 11 of this season's 22 events with a series' best seven top-five finishes. He has two career wins. Eddie Wood said the search for Bayne's replacement began as soon as Bayne announced his plans to move up to Cup full-time with RFR. "Of course, that left us without a driver," Wood said. "As the summer went on the name that kept popping up was Ryan Blaney and it just kept coming up over and over and over again, so we went in that direction and fortunately we put that deal together. "We've had Trevor for the last four years and had that one great big win at Daytona (in 2011). That was almost a life-changing event for us as well as Trevor. I hope that we can repeat some of that success with Ryan. "He's the next big deal, I think, and we're real excited to have him. We've got a lot of pictures on our wall up in Virginia in the museum and we'd sure love to put him up there as a winner." Wood said for now the team's limited schedule likely would remain unchanged for next season, with the team competing in at least 12 Sprint Cup events. Motorcraft/Quick Lane will return as primary sponsor for 2015. Additional funding could mean an expanded schedule. "We're always chasing other dollars to run more races and we're certainly going to be in a position to do that," Wood said. In addition to the driver move, officials also announced the formation of a technical alliance with Team Penske , which fields Ford teams in the Sprint Cup Series for drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano . Since 2012, Blaney has made several starts for Team Penske in the Nationwide Series , and made his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year with the organization, finishing 27th at Kansas. He is scheduled to make one more Sprint Cup start with the team this year, at Talladega. The alliance "is something that's foreign to us to be honest," said Team Penske president Tim Cindric, "because it's not something we've done in the past. "We've been approached in different ways and … some of that has to do with how well you run and how well you don't run. When you're running up front, everybody wants to work with you and when you're not, then you don't get as many calls. But our answer has usually been the same. Our answer has usually been, ‘We've got enough to focus on at our place.'" Working closely with the Wood Brothers made sense "for many reasons," he said. "We're certainly focused on not only ensuring that Ryan has the tools to be successful and continues his career, but ensuring that the Wood Brothers have everything that we have." In addition to his Sprint Cup duties, Blaney will likely continue to share seat time in the No. 22 Ford fielded by Team Penske in the Nationwide Series next season. "I'd like to do as much racing as possible next year and that stuff will come later on down the road," Blaney said. "We're just excited to announce the stuff today. … I'd like to race as much as possible but we're focused on finishing out this year strong and I'm really excited about the Wood Brothers deal next year and I'm sure we'll figure all that stuff out later." Wood Brothers Racing is one of the longest tenured groups competing in NASCAR's premier series. Founded by Glen Wood when NASCAR was just beginning to take root in the early 1950s, the team has won 98 races and has always been affiliated with Ford Motor Company. Glen and younger brother Leonard Wood , who served as crew chief, are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Glen's children, Eddie, Len and Kim, run the organization today. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Len and Eddie Wood announce they will run a full NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule in 2016 with driver Ryan Blaney.