Wood Brothers, Ryan Blaney prepare for "special" trip to Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WSET) - After 5 years without a full time driver behind the wheel of the #21 Ford Motorcraft car, the Wood Brothers Racing Team from Stuart returned to the 'Paper Clip' in 2016, with Cup Series rookie Ryan Blaney behind the wheel.
One year later, the Wood Brothers and Blaney, fresh off a 2nd place finish at Daytona and sitting in the top 10 of points, look to make 2017 their year at Martinsville.
NASCAR Hall of Fame Crew Chief Leonard Wood says Martinsville is a track that challenges the best of drivers. "(Martinsville) is a different atmopshere of racing." says Wood, who was at the first race at Martinsville Speedway years ago. "This particular track is designed like no other; Long straightaways, short turns, extremely hard on the brakes."
Blaney, now in his 2nd full year with the 21 team, has shown tremendous growth in 2017, placing 2nd in the Daytona 500, and comes in with added confidence, off of a top 10 finish in Fontana last week. The 23-year old now looks to add a win at 'The Clip' to his resume, and says NASCAR's new point system should make for an exciting ride for fans, adding "(This race is) a lot different than last week, where it's a big 2 mile, and you're kinda strung out. Here, if you're sitting 12th, and there's 30 to go for a stage end, you're gonna get pretty aggressive trying to get in for the points."
While Blaney says racing at Martinsville brings back memories of watching his dad, Dave Blaney, race here, Leonard Wood says he'd like nothing better than to make it a true homecoming. Says Leonard, “I just think 70 years later would be a really good time to win.”
After Wednesday's interview, Dave Walls got to go on a ridealong with Ryan Blaney in the STP 500 Pace Car. Check out the replay of the Facebook Live video!