Looking Forward to Atlanta Wood Brothers Racing, Bill Elliott and the ...
Looking Forward to Atlanta
Wood Brothers Racing, Bill Elliott and the #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion will be back at the track this weekend in Atlanta. Atlanta is known for being the fastest track on the Sprint Cup circuit with average lap speeds over 190 miles per hour. It is a 1.54 mile quad-oval with 24 degrees of banking in the corners and welcomes NASCAR Sprint Cup teams and fans two times per year.
This weekend's race marks the 100th Atlanta race. The Wood Brothers will be making their 95th Atlanta appearance. The #21 Ford has enjoyed much success at the track having won 12 times, and earning thirty three top 5's, forty five top 10s and 9 poles. The team won their first Atlanta spring race in 1965 with Marvin Panch behind the wheel. Other notable drivers include Cale Yarborough who had 3 Atlanta wins for the Wood Brothers and David Pearson who added another 3 Atlanta wins for the team.
While residents of the southeast dig out from the most recent snow storm, it may remind some of the year the spring Atlanta race was postponed because of snow -- the same year the Wood Brothers won their the most recent Atlanta race -- 1993.
The Wood Brothers arrived in Atlanta in the spring of 1993 with Morgan Shepherd set to drive. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative. As team co-owner Kim Wood Hall recalls, "We went to bed and woke up the next morning to snow blowing under our hotel room door. We couldn't believe it." Because of the weather, the race was postponed until the following week.
Shepherd began the race in 7th position and drove near the front all day. Late in the race it appeared the team's hopes for victory was compromised as the car experienced a flat, right front tire that forced the #21 to pit during green flag racing. Because of the early pit, the Wood Brothers calculated that they would be 5 laps short of the finish. The team was left with a choice: pit one more time and forego any reasonable chance of victory or stay out and try to conserve fuel to make it to the end. The team chose the later and stayed out.
Because 1992 Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki was forced to retire to the garage earlier in the race, the Ford Racing teammate sought out the Wood Brothers and spent the remainder of his day in the Wood's pit. As the race drew closer to the finish, Alan kept after the team stating Morgan had to do more to conserve fuel.
As the laps ticked down, it became a two "horse" race with Shepherd battling Rusty Wallace for the win. Rusty thought he had the race won but Shepherd managed his fuel and brought the #21 Wood Brothers Citgo sponsored Ford Thunderbird across the start finish line first giving the Wood Brothers their 12th Atlanta win.