Blaney Dominates Practice, But Will Start 12th At Michigan

Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney and the No. 21 Motorcraft/SKF team were a couple of bobbles away from sweeping the day on Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Blaney was fastest in practice with a best lap at 203.591 miles per hour. Then in qualifying, he topped the first two rounds with laps at 201.686 mph in the first round and 203.120 mph in the second.

But in the third and final round he had to back off the gas after getting loose in Turn One. From that point on, any hope of winning the pole was lost and he wound up in 12th place after a lap at 201.235 mph.

“I just got loose over there [in Turn One],” Blaney said in his post-qualifying comments. “You lose time in one corner, and you can’t make it up.”

Still, it was the 16th time in 23 tries this season that he’s earned a starting spot of 12th or better.

“I’m proud of the first two rounds,” Blaney said. “We didn’t tighten the car up for the last round.”

And the fast times he turned on Friday have him feeling good about the rest of the Michigan weekend.

“We have good speed in our car,” he said. “Hopefully we should be able to drive up through everybody in the race.”

Team Penske, which shares a technical alliance with the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/SKFteam, swept the front row with Brad Keselowski taking the pole and Joey Logano earning the outside pole.


Blaney On Target To Integrate Into Team Penske

Ryan Blaney
Roger Penske said that his young NASCAR gun, Ryan Blaney, is part of the family and is getting closer to becoming a full blown member of the Team Penske organization.

Blaney, 22, is currently entered by the Wood Brothers, using equipment supplied by Penske. He leads the rookie standings over Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, and is 14th in Cup points overall.

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.

“We’ve put that car with Wood Brothers, we’ve built the crew around it. It’s a great way to bring another driver along in good equipment. And I think if you ask the Woods, they’re happy. It keeps them in the game.

“It’s a great training ground for our people. It’s as good a team as there is around now.”

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.

“He’s going to be good, he and Chase [Elliott] at that age and having that experience. If you finish ahead of Kevin Harvick in anything, you’re having a good day.”

It will be very interesting to see how Penske integrates young Blaney into the Penske fold next year!


Sam Hornish, Jr. To The RPM #9 Driver’s Seat?

Marcos Ambrose

(WOMR file photo)

The latest rumored replacement for the soon to be vacated seat at Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Ford appears to be  the former Indy 500 winner and Team Penske driver, Sam Hornish, Jr.

The Motor Racing Network is fueling the speculation that the former IndyCar star, and current part-time Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide driver, Sam Hornish, Jr. could be in line for the RPM #9 Ford driver’s seat in 2015.

The vacancy at RPM became clearly obvious when Marcos Ambrose made it public that he was returning to his native Australia to drive for the newly merged Australian  Super V8 race team of Dick Johnson Racing and Team Penske!

This is not the first rumor involving Sam Hornish, and a return to the Sprint Cup level of NASCAR.  Just a few weeks ago there was a rumor floating around the garage area that Hornish could possibly the new driver of the Woods Bros. #21 Ford.  That rumor was later squashed when the Wood Bros. announced a technical alliance with Team Penske.  That alliance with Team Penske has paved the way for Ryan Blaney, a developmental driver for Team Penske, to fill the Wood Bros. #21 driver’s seat in 2015.


The Wood Brothers Name Ryan Blaney For 2015

Trevor Bayne

(WOMR file photo)

Wood Brothers Racing announces today 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.

Wood Brothers Racing is excited to align with Roger Penske and his team and we couldn’t be more pleased to put Ryan Blaney in the #21 Ford Fusion,” said Eddie and Len Wood, co-owners of Wood Brothers Racing, in a joint statement. “Ryan is a third-generation racer and one of the best young drivers out there. He has been a winner in many different kinds of cars since he started racing at a very young age and we fully expect that to continue while he is with us.”

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, the current points leader in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driving the #29 Ford F-150 for Brad Keselowski Racing, said, “I want to thank Wood Brothers Racing, Team Penske, Ford Racing and everyone at Motorcraft and Quick Lane for the opportunity to race next season in the Sprint Cup Series. To get a chance to race at the top level of NASCAR in such a historic car as the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion is a dream come true. I’m really looking forward to 2015.”

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.

He joins an impressive list of drivers who have driven for the Wood Brothers since 1950, including team founder Glen Wood, Curtis Turner, Junior Johnson, Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, Bill Elliott and Bayne who won the Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers in 2011. That victory gave the team the unmatched distinction of scoring at least one win in every decade for the last seven decades.

“We’re confident that putting a promising driver like Ryan Blaney behind the wheel of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, and joining forces on the technical side with Team Penske, will result in success on and off the track,” said Mary Lou Quesnell, director of marketing for Ford Customer Service Division, Wood Brothers Racing’s primary sponsor. “Ryan is a fine young man, and he will represent our Motorcraft and Quick Lane brands well.”

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.(

Ryan, the son of sprint car legend, and NASCAR driver Dave Blaney, and the grandson of “The Original Buckeye Bullet” sprint car driver, Lou Blaney, appears to be on the fast track to a quality Sprint Cup car ride.  This pit stop with the Wood Bros. famous #21 Ford Fusion will give Ryan the quality seat time required to be competitve as he is readied for a full-time ride with Team Penske!


Hornish In The Woods Brothers Ford In 2015?

Trvor Bayne

(WOMR file photo)

With Trevor Bayne getting a full time ride in the Roush-Fenway Racing flagship #6 Advocare Ford in 2015, that leaves a void in the driver’s seat of the Wood Brother’s #21 Ford.  The garage noise is that there is a real possibility that Sam Hornish, Jr. may  be the driver that slips into that seat for 2015.

Remember who is the “new lead dog” for the Ford camp these days, Team Penske, not Roush-Fenway Racing.   Likewise, remember who Hornish drove for in the last few Indy 500’s, also remember that Hornish drove the last few years for Team Penske in the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series.

Also remember that Roger Penske is a very loyal employer.  The Captain kept A.J. Allmendinger on his payroll for the reminder of the 2012 season, even after “The Dinger” was suspended from NASCAR after his faux pas with Adderall.

Therefore, there is little to no surprise that most likely Penske would use his influence with Ford to get Sam Hornish, Jr. a ride in the Wood Bros. famous #21 Ford!



Bayne Reins In The Florida Plains

(photo courtesy Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

History was made Sunday afternoon at “The Great American Race”.  A rookie named Trevor Bayne got one whale of a 20th birthday present!  He won the Daytona 500 in only his second Sprint Cup race, and his very first Daytona 500 attempt!  Additionally, his car owners, the Wood Brothers, have not won a Daytona 500 since the 1976 race with David Pearson.  Add to that, the Wood Brothers have not won a Sprint Cup race since Elliott Sadler won in their car at Bristol Motor Speedway ten years ago.

Back to Trevor Bayne.  Trevor who you are probably saying to yourself.  Well last year Trevor Bayne was driving in the Nationwide Series for Michael Waltrip Racing.  But prior to the end of the season, Michaela Waltrip Racing lost the sponsorship for Bayne and released him from his contract.

Before the the week was up, Trevor Bayne was signed to a contract with Roush-Fenway Racing to finish out the 2010 season.  Over the off season, Jack Roush worked out a deal to put his young driver into a few races with the Wood Brothers Racing, one of the pioneer racing teams of NASCAR who recently has seen some rather slim and rough times.

With the 2011 Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers Racing win under his belt, young Trevor Bayne joins some mighty fine company.  The other great drivers to win a Daytona 500 for the Wood Brothers include, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, David Pearson, and Cale Yarborough, just to mention a few.  The only other driver to win his very first attempt at the Daytona 500 is Lee Petty, another great of the sport.

One last item of interest is that Bayne is now the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500, 20 years and one day.  In fact it was a mighty fine 20th birthday present that he gave himself on Sunday!

Trevor drove down to Daytona in his own pickup truck.  With his winnings from the Daytona 500 it is quite possible that he may joining the motorhome crowd with the rest of the Sprint Cup drivers!

So on February 20, 2011 it could be said that Trevor Bayne reins in the Florida plains!

It was not the “fairly tale” ending that the press was looking for.  There was buzz that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was looking like the team to beat in Daytona 500.  But nobody, absolutely nobody, would have , in their wildest dreams, put money down on the relatively unknown rookie,Trevor Bayne, as the prospective winner of the 2011 Daytona 500!

Fairy tales can come true.  They may even happen to you!

What is your impression of “The Great American Race”, the 2011 Daytona 500?