The Wood brothers are coming back to NASCAR full-time, and they’re bringing with them a young up-and-comer.
Wood Brothers Racing announced Friday (Nov. 20) that the team will return to full-time competition in the Sprint Cup Series in 2016, and Ryan Blaney will return to the seat for his first full year in Cup, while Jeremy Bullins will remain on top of the pit box.
Motorcraft/Quick Lane will remain as a primary sponsor for the team, along with Ford Performance.
For team co-owner Eddie Wood, it is an important continuation of a long-time relationship.
“A lot of people have been working on [the full-time package] for a long time,” Wood said in a press conference confirming the news. “We’re really proud of our association and heritage with Ford Motor Company. We’ve been racing with Ford Motor Company products for 65 years. We’re really looking forward to next year.”
For Blaney, the move results in a permanent, full-time Sprint Cup ride, and his excitement is palpable.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true,” Blaney said. “Growing up in the garage with my dad racing and seeing what he used to do when I was a kid and being able to be part of a full season with an organization like the Wood Brothers and Ford is going to be amazing. I’m looking forward to next year and can’t thank Edsel [Ford] and Dave [Pericak, head of Ford Performance], along with Raj Nair. They made it happen. We’ve been pretty good this year and that only gives us more momentum for next year.”
In 15 starts this season, Blaney has earned one top five (a fourth at Talladega) and two top-10 finishes. The team has also shown impressive pace in qualifying trim, making the final round in qualifying five times with a best start of third at Talladega in May.
There is also one more benefit that comes with racing full-time: less sweating out the weather. Rain has been an ongoing issue for the Wood Brothers in 2015. The team has failed to qualify for three races this season solely because of qualifying being rained out.
“It’ll be great not to have to worry about rain anymore on qualifying day,” Wood said.
Wood Brothers Racing famously won the 2011 Daytona 500 with Trevor Bayne, who has since moved to a full-time ride with Roush Fenway Racing.