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
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
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
Get history of Wood Brothers Racing and full crew of Trevor Bayne
Glen and Leonard Wood join NASCAR HOF historian Buz McKim to discuss their legendary careers in racing.
Glen and Leonard Wood discuss the Hall of Fame, their relationships with Ford and when Leonard will join Glen in the Hall.
A fan of the sport long before he became a driver, this Hall of Fame inductee went on to a long career as an owner and driver.
Remaining tracks place a premium on what NASCAR's powerhouses do best RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Either way, someone was going to crash the party. No matter which of the two frontrunners ultimately took the checkered flag this past Sunday at Watkins Glen International , the venerable upstate New York road course was going to deliver what most everyone believed it would -- a new face introduced into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and a new name almost certainly added to that expanded 16-driver grid. It went above and beyond that, providing viewers with breathless, desperate racing between AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose , both of whom knew their playoff hopes hinged solely on the results of Sunday afternoon. In the end it was Allmendinger, who a year ago this coming weekend was celebrating a Nationwide Series victory at Mid-Ohio for Roger Penske, and now stands on the brink of his first playoff berth at NASCAR's top level. The Chase now appears very close indeed, with the opener at Chicagoland looming just a month away, and during this late-summer stretch run the final pieces will fall into place. There's a bit of symmetry in it all: four races remaining in the regular season, four spots remaining in the playoff. We've reached the point where it will be impossible to have more than 16 different winners, as much as some of us had hoped to see it, if just for the anxious spectacle it would create. While there's still a chance to get to 16 winners and knock out anyone relying solely on points, we're beyond the point of wild cards -- no road courses or restrictor-plate venues remain to level the field for the long shots still holding out hope. The four tracks remaining all place a premium on the things the sport's established powers do best. For instance -- Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday's Sprint Cup event, and where hours on the dynamometer and in the wind tunnel are prerequisites on a blisteringly fast 2-mile track. The last driver you might be able to term an upset winner in Brooklyn might have been Brian Vickers for Red Bull in 2009, but that's probably unfair given the cash Dietrich Mateschitz was sinking into that program at the time. Before that, the last surprise there was perhaps Charlie Glotzbach in 1970, although owner Ray Nichels turned out some stout cars back in the day. Even at a track notorious for its fuel-mileage finales, the shockers are usually resigned to qualifying on Friday afternoon. Then it's on to Bristol , where Carl Edwards won in the spring, and which demands the kind of short-track rhythm which elite drivers do best, not to mention a car fast enough to prevent getting lapped on an early green-flag run. For all the focus on calamity and bump-and-run, the list of winners at Bristol is as star-studded as that of any other track. That kind of speed on a half-mile venue weeds out the field fairly quickly. There's never really been a shocker at Bristol, which tends to be dominated for long stretches by truly great drivers -- first by Cale Yarborough, then Darrell Waltrip, then Rusty Wallace, then the Busch brothers -- until the next one finds the knack. For years, the place gave Jimmie Johnson fits, it's so difficult. Drama? Plenty. Upsets? Unheard of. Atlanta may be something of a different story. Jerry Nadeau scored his lone career victory there in 2000, and call-up Kevin Harvick pulled an emotional stunner the next season, but both those drivers were working for top owners -- the former Rick Hendrick, the latter Richard Childress -- and wheeling equipment unparalleled for their time. Morgan Shepherd won three times there between 1986 and '93, his latter two victories coming for Bud Moore and the Wood Brothers in an era where those teams were still competitive. But this isn't the '90s anymore. Atlanta is another of those fast horsepower tracks, and the drivers who have historically owned the place are those with the most under the hood. So then -- Richmond. Sweat-it-out, bite-the-fingernails, don't-get-wrecked, last-chance Richmond. We've seen the near-impossible happen there before, in the form of Jeremy Mayfield winning the race in 2004 to wedge his way into that inaugural Chase field the only way he could. The possibility certainly exists that we could witness something like that again -- even if first-time winners run the table the next three weeks, there would still be room for one more on that Saturday night in the Virginia capital. As far as true upset potential, history points to Mayfield (whose Ray Evernham-owned team was better than the numbers might indicate) and Joe Nemechek winning in 2003. Nemechek that season, though, was a Hendrick driver. So does that really count? Michigan will help clear the picture, albeit if only a little. A victory by any repeat winner this weekend will officially lock in all those drivers with one victory -- guys we figured were in anyway -- and bolster the hopes of those hoping to get in on points. Another first-time winner (Michigan mainstay Greg Biffle , maybe?) and the pressure really begins to build on those guys who have yet to visit Victory Lane. A playoff of 16 winners may seem a remote possibility, but if we get to Bristol or Atlanta and there's still a chance of it -- well, a few firesuit collars may begin to feel mighty tight indeed. All that said, a tip of the cap to Allmendinger, who in almost certainly the final opportunity to do so gave us one more real underdog to go along with Aric Almirola, who pulled his shocker in the rain-shortened Daytona race in July. And while we're at it, give some credit to David Ragan, who told us all along this kind of thing was coming, even though he won his Talladega race a year too early. At Watkins Glen , Allmendinger and Ambrose provided a dramatic, grand final hurrah for the little guys. Thanks for the show, gentlemen. But given the tracks remaining in the regular season and the demands required in the Chase, the big boys will take it from here. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule