WOOD BROTHERS HAVE ENVIABLE NASCAR RECORD AT MICHIGAN 3M PERFORMANCE 400 VICTORY WOULD BE 12TH FOR LEGENDARY VIRGINIA TEAM AT MIS ST. PAUL, MINN -- There was a time when it would be a strange occurrence if a NASCAR team other than the Wood ...
WOOD BROTHERS HAVE ENVIABLE NASCAR RECORD AT MICHIGAN
3M PERFORMANCE 400 VICTORY WOULD BE 12TH FOR LEGENDARY VIRGINIA TEAM AT MIS
ST. PAUL, MINN -- There was a time when it would be a strange occurrence if a NASCAR team other than the Wood Brothers won at Michigan International Speedway. Lately, Roush Racing seems to have inherited that status.
But when NASCAR NEXTEL Cup's traveling series comes to the Irish Hills of Michigan for the June 18 running of the 3M Performance 400, the Wood Brothers team from tiny Stuart, Va., will still be the most winning team in the history of NASCAR racing at MIS.
From the time when Cale Yarborough won the inaugural NASCAR event at the two-mile track in a Wood Brothers Mercury in 1969 until today, the team has amassed 11 wins in NASCAR competition at MIS. David Pearson, the most winning driver ever at MIS with nine wins, won seven of the nine races at MIS held between 1971 and 1975.
"We did well that first race, and we just went from there," said Leonard Wood, the mechanical genius behind many of the team's 98 NASCAR wins and founder of the team nearly 50 years ago with his brother Glen. "Our car and the setup just seemed to work there. And when Pearson got in the car, he was such a good driver that we could make just a small adjustment here or there and he'd go out and win."
The Wood Brothers team, now run by Glen's sons Eddie and Len and daughter Kim, will be back at MIS for the 3M Performance 400 with current driver Ken Schrader. Though the team hasn't tasted victory at MIS since Dale Jarrett scored his first career NASCAR victory in 1991, the team's record and experience at MIS can't be counted out as Schrader seeks to put the #21 Ford into the winner's circle.
But in recent years it has been Roush Racing that has taken up where the Wood Brothers and, later, Bill Elliott, left off in dominating racing at MIS. Roush cars have eight victories at MIS, including a win in last year's 3M Performance 400 by Greg Biffle.
"Bill was a lot like David Pearson in the way that he raced," said Wood. "He was a good driver, and the Roush drivers are all good, and of course they've got really good equipment too."
Wood looks back on his team's success at MIS fondly and gives it special importance, as do many, due to the close proximity of the Detroit automakers that have been an important part of NASCAR racing since the beginning.
"Winning is always special, but because of where the track was located, right near Detroit and all the manufacturers it was a good place to win," said Wood. "We won the first races at Rockingham and Ontario too. But, you always wanted to do well at Michigan."