Contract Status: Driver: 2017?; Primary Sponsor: 2017?
Andrea Mueller takes the lead as engineer for #21 team: Andrea Mueller will have a much different job for this year's Daytona 500 than the last one she worked. As an engineer at Team Penske in 2009, Mueller's race-day job did not rank among the most thrilling. She spent race days as the team scorer, where she would sit in a NASCAR-provided booth and push a button every time the car crossed the start/finish line as a way for NASCAR to have a backup scoring system. With the advancement in electronic scoring, that job no longer exists. Her job Feb. 26 at Daytona International Speedway will feel significantly more important as well as provide an incredible thrill -- and likely way more stress -- as a culmination of her path over the past 10 years. She will work in her first NASCAR Cup race as the lead engineer for #21-Wood Brothers Racing driver Ryan Blaney. The Cal Poly graduate worked for Boeing and Pratt & Whitney, doing projects for the space shuttle program at NASA before joining Team Penske in 2007. She steadily worked her way up, having served as the lead engineer for Penske's Xfinity Series #22 team, which won 25 races and three owners titles in her five seasons. About a month ago, Mueller was offered the job as lead engineer for Blaney, who drives for Penske affiliate Wood Brothers Racing. Her role will give her the highest profile of any female in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage.(full article at ESPN)(2-14-2017)
NASCAR Crewman breaks through for indoor racing triumph: Ryan Flores finally won a race in the Len Sammons Indoor Auto Racing Series. Then he turned around and did it again the next night. Flores won both Friday and Saturday in the three-quarter midget series races at Allentown's PPL Center. Flores is a New Jersey native who works full time in the fabrication shop for Penske Racing's NASCAR outfit near Charlotte, North Carolina. On weekends, he's a tire changer for the Wood Brothers and driver Ryan Blaney, who are associated with Penske Racing.(York Dispatch)(1-5-2017)
Charters change hands; Petty down to one team? UPDATE: Interviewed on SiriusXM NASCAR radio Thursday afternoon, Go Fas owner Archie St. Hilare said the #32 team has leased the charter from Richard Petty Motorsports' #44 team for the 2017 season. Furthermore, Go Fas has leased the #32 team charter for next season to Wood Brothers Racing's #21 team.
The moves will guarantee #21-Ryan Blaney and Wood Brothers make every race next season.
Per ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass, "By leasing #32 charter to Wood Brothers, Go FAS likely makes sure charter isn't bottom 3 for 3 consecutive yrs (can be revoked if so)".
In addition, St. Hilare says Go Fas has obtained 6 cars from Richard Petty Motorsports for next year.
While nothing has been officially announced, the moves appear to show that Richard Petty Motorsports will contract back to a single car team next season with #43-Aric Almirola.(12-15-2016)
UPDATE: Statement from Brian Moffitt, CEO Richard Petty Motorsports: "At the conclusion of the 2016 season, we evaluated how to best improve our on-track product. We feel that it's in the best interest of our partners and for Richard Petty Motorsports to focus our resources on the No. 43 Ford Fusion and Aric (Almirola) in 2017. A concentrated effort on one team will position us for improvement while giving us adequate time to reestablish our two-car team in 2018. For the interim, we will lease one of our two charters."(Richard Petty Motorsports)(12-16-2016)
Wood Brothers Racing moving; plans to have Blaney return: If all goes as planned, #21-Wood Brothers Racing will be moved into its new home by the middle of next week and driver Ryan Blaney will be back with the team in 2017. Wood Brothers co-owner Len Wood said Friday that the team is almost entirely moved out of its shop in Harrisburg, NC, and will be moving about 45 minutes away to Mooresville. Wood said the team is moving into a former HScott Motorsports shop K&N Series shop near Mooresville Dragway. The facility is in a business park filled with racing teams and more importantly is very close to Penske Racing, with whom the Woods have a close affiliation. The Wood Brothers had been in Harrisburg since late 2005, sharing the shop in recent years with JTG Daugherty Racing, which Len Wood said purchased the Woods' portion of the facility earlier this year. As for Blaney, who had a successful rookie season in the Wood Brothers first full season of racing since 2008, Wood said the team intends to have him drive the #21 Ford again in 2017.(FoxSports)(11-12-2016)
Penske still plans to add Blaney with a third team: Roger Penske has said his young NASCAR protege Ryan Blaney is "part of the family" and is moving closer to becoming a full-blown member of Penske's Sprint Cup lineup. Blaney, 22, is currently entered by the Wood Brothers, using equipment supplied by Penske. Blaney finished sixth at Las Vegas last weekend, and looks set to be brought even closer to the Penske fold next season. "Our goal is ultimately for that to be a Penske entry - or maybe a Wood-Penske entry, depending on how the Charter system works out," said Penske. "Today it's entered by the Wood Brothers, they're involved in the strategy, some of their guys work on it, and it's perfect. "You could call him the nephew, you could say. He's part of the family. He's in the shop, he briefs with us, it's a great setup." Penske said that it had a long-term strategy with Blaney, going forwards, and this way it could allow him to build his experience in a low-pressure environment before stepping up his level to being an expected regular frontrunner. "Our plan with [Blaney] has worked out well, he's been with us now for four years," he added. "The fact we've been able to provide the car and get [crew chief] Jeremy Bullins over there, and working with the Woods, it means we can build him without the pressure of being with Brad [Keselowski] and Joey [Logano]. But he can use them as a benchmark because he's got access to all their information, because the cars and pieces are the same.(Motorsport)(3-13-2016)
Wood Brothers Racing leaves Race Team Alliance: Wood Brothers Racing team members expressed disappointment Friday that they didn't receive one of 36 charters issued by NASCAR this week and said they had pulled out of the Race Team Alliance. The 36 teams with charters have automatic starting spots in each Sprint Cup race. The other four spots on each starting grid will be available to "open" teams like the Woods and their driver, Ryan Blaney, through qualifying. Although the Woods' team, one of the oldest in NASCAR, has been racing since the sanctioning body's first season, the fact that it has been running part-time over the past several years caused the #21 to fail to meet the numbers for a charter. Ironically, the Woods decided last year to run full-time this season and now face having to qualify via speed every week. Should Blaney be one of the 16 drivers to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, under the current rules, he would have to qualify for those races too, taking one of the four Open slots in the new system. "It's all going to work out," said team co-owner Eddie Wood. "I promise. It's going to be OK." Jon Wood, Eddie's son and the team's business manager, said it was evident during preliminary charter discussions last season that the #21 would not be among the teams receiving charters.(USA Today), see transcript at Ford Racing (2-15-2016)
Wood Brothers returning to full-time racing in 2016: #21-Wood Brothers Racing announced that it will run a full, 36-race schedule in 2016 with Ryan Blaney continuing as the team's driver contending for a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship with Motorcraft/Quick Lane and Ford Performance returning as anchor sponsors. "We are beyond excited to make this announcement about going back to full time competition," said Eddie Wood, team co-owner, at a press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend. "It has been something we've worked toward since 2009 when we started running limited schedules. I have to thank Ford's Dave Pericak and Raj Nair, Edsel Ford, our technical alliance partners Team Penske and Roush Yates Engines, as well as everyone at Motorcraft, for working with us to make this day possible. It'll be fun to see just how good Ryan Blaney, Jeremy Bullins and our team can be over a full season. Lastly, it'll be great not to have to worry about rain anymore on qualifying day."
Due to their limited schedule and the current point system, inclement weather prevented Wood Brothers Racing from qualifying for three races in which they were slated to run this season. "We are proud to have played a role in helping get the Wood Brothers back on the track full time for 2016," said Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. "These guys have been Ford's most-loyal team for 65 years and they deserve the chance to show how they can perform when they are at every race. They've earned a full-time slot by running strong all year, even under adversity. We plan on being part of this when they capture their 100th Cup victory."
"This is a day everyone has looked forward to," said Edsel B. Ford II, board member, Ford Motor Company. "The Wood Brothers represent everything that is great about this sport - tradition, family, loyalty, competition. When we asked them to regroup and consider going part-time in 2009, it was always with an eye on getting back to this day. And we are thrilled it is finally here." Thus far in 2015, the Wood Brothers' iconic #21's best finishes were fourth in the spring Talladega race, 12th at the Brickyard, 14th in the fall Charlotte race and seventh in the most-recent Kansas race. Even in the four races when the team had engine problems, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion was running toward the front of the field when the trouble arose.
"This is every driver's dream come true," Blaney said, "Getting a chance to run for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. I'm really looking forward to running a full schedule with this historic Wood Brothers team and hopefully get them their 99th and 100th wins sooner rather than later." Motorcraft's partnership with Wood Brothers Racing began in 2001 and quickly bore fruit by winning the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with Elliott Sadler behind the wheel. The Motorcraft-Wood Brothers pairing had its greatest triumph in 2011 when rookie driver Trevor Bayne captured the Daytona 500. "We are thrilled to have been able to work with Ford Performance to make the Wood Brothers' a full-time race team for the 2016 NASCAR season," said Mary Lou Quesnell, director of marketing for Ford Customer Service Division. "Wood Brothers Racing has been an excellent representative of our brands for 15 years and we look forward to seeing the famous #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion on the track week after week." In addition to Motorcraft and Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers, the team will look to add additional sponsors to the roster during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.(Wood Brothers Racing)(11-20-2015)
AND According to NASCAR officials, Blaney will be eligible to run for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2016 on a one-time exemption, even though he has 17 Sprint Cup starts to his credit, 15 this season. Blaney was not a candidate for the rookie award this year.(NASCAR Wire Service)(11-20-2015)
Team Penske plans to eventually have four teams: For Team Penske to make the next progression longer-term, president Tim Cindric said, it will eventually have to field four teams, like powers Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. Until then, he said, the organization will not be regarded as an "elite team."
"I don't think we're looked at as that yet," Cindric said. "I mean, you look at the pedigree, and you look at the time, it's only been since Joey arrived (in 2013) that we've had two cars consistently contending. I think you could say maybe there was a year with Brad and Kurt (Busch, in 2011) but before that, if you look at the 90s and you look at the 2000s time period, we were hit and miss. I don't think that we got to the point where we were a consistent contender with multiple cars, and I think we're almost over that hump. But I don't think we're viewed yet as an elite team within NASCAR because we only run two cars." Sponsorship shortfalls this summer quashed a plan to field a full-time program beginning in 2016 for Ryan Blaney, Cindric said. The 21-year-old is running partial national touring campaigns this season, with the Wood Brothers in Cup, for Penske in Xfinity, where he has won twice, and for Keselowski's trucks team, where he has one victory. "There's a certain tolerance that you have," Cindric said of sponsor money, "but you can't close the gap so far. For '17 it's a definite goal of ours to get ourselves back up to three and longer-term we want to be a four-car team." NASCAR currently limits to four the number of full-time Sprint Cup cars an organization can race. Teams capable of funding such operations benefit from economies of scale in building cars and information-gathering and -sharing. Of the three teams with the maximum, JGR qualified all four drivers for the 16-person Chase this season, HMS three and Stewart-Haas Racing two. "I think four is the right business model, but we felt like we had to go to two to get ourselves focused," Cindric said. "When you have two successful cars or one successful car and others that aren't successful, you spend as much time or more time on the car that is not successful. And we felt like we needed to take a step back and get ourselves to a point where we could simplify things.For sure we want to get back to three and eventually four. I do think four is easier to manage than three just because you typically have a better balance. I do think there is some truth to three's a crowd and it's harder to manage the three."(USA Today)(11-16-2015)
Wood Brothers forms alliance with Penske; names Ryan Blaney as driver: Wood Brothers Racing announced that it has formed a technical alliance with Team Penske and will race a partial-season schedule in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with up-and-coming driver Ryan Blaney. Blaney, who has raced as a Team Penske development driver since 2012, will compete in at least 12 races for Wood Brothers Racing next season in the iconic #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion as he continues his rapid NASCAR development. Blaney will also practice and qualify the #21 this weekend at the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway while current Wood Brothers driver Trevor Bayne competes in the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Bayne will return in time to start the Sprint Cup race at the back of the field. Blaney is scheduled to make his official debut for Wood Brothers Racing in the 2015 Daytona 500. He will race for the team in events at Daytona, Las Vegas, Texas, Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan and Indianapolis, among others. In addition to driving the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for the Wood Brothers, Blaney will drive a Team Penske Mustang in the 2015 Nationwide Series.(Wood Brothers Racing)(8-14-2014)
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, FL
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 3:00pm/et
Happy Hour Practice:
Saturday, February 25, 2017, 12:30pm/et
TV: FoxSports1 12:30pm/et
19 Trevor Bayne, Jeff Purvis, Bobby Kennedy, Landon Smith, John Paul Jr., Mark Reed, David Mayhew
20 Roger Penske, Bobby Unser, Gary Myers, Stewart McDonald, Scott Lagasse, Scott Brayton, Jason Hedlesky
21 NASCAR founded, J.D. Gibbs, Kevin Swindell, Ben Rhodes, Jim Reed, Gene Comstock, Cannonball Brown, Jimmy Thompson, Dave Terrell, Gary Sain, Wayne Jacks, Sean Corr
22 Marshall Teague, Larry Foyt, Chuck Bown, Grace Kenseth, Logan Styers, Karla Lampe, Scott Robinette
23 Ralph Earnhardt, Bobby Moody, Dean Combs, Mike Marriner, Dawn Purvis, George Alsobrook
24 Michael Ritch, Jason Schuler, Aaron Daniel, Gilbert King, J.C. Hall
25 Davey Allison, Timmy Hill, Jaklyn Woodland, Derick Jennings, Butch Gilliland, Jonathan Toney
26 Bob Eolin, Brad Coleman, Terry Cook, Kertus Davis, Carl Haas, Colton Meyer
27 Ty Dillon, Todd Bodine, Dennis Setzer, Kevin Sharpe, Mike Warnecker
28 Mario Andretti, Teddy McClure, Jeff Almond, Billy Wade
29 Noreen Hofmann, Bun Emery, Barney Shore, Scott Cluka, Chuck Romeo