Wood Brothers look for a new winner with Elliott at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (May 17, 2002) -- The Wood Brothers are one of the winningest organizations at Daytona International Speedway, owning four Daytona 500 victories and eight Pepsi 400 triumphs. Part of the reason the Wood Brothers have so many...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (May 17, 2002) -- The Wood Brothers are one of the winningest organizations at Daytona International Speedway, owning four Daytona 500 victories and eight Pepsi 400 triumphs.

Part of the reason the Wood Brothers have so many wins in the Pepsi 400 is due to David Pearson's penchant of winning the mid-summer classic. The legendary driver owns a record five Pepsi 400 victories, four of which have come with the Wood Brothers including an unprecedented string of three in a row between 1972-74.

Leonard Wood, who founded the famed Wood Brothers Racing with his brother Glen in 1950, says Pearson always seemed to find good fortune in the Pepsi 400.

"It's just something about the way your luck is running," said the 67-year-old Wood, who remains active in the operation based in Stuart, Va. "He just never had good luck in the 500. He was very capable of winning the Daytona 500 and of course he did in 1976. It was something about (the Pepsi 400). It just seemed that things worked better for him."

Pearson's great rival Richard Petty found his success in the Daytona 500, winning the "Great American Race" a record seven times. But in the Pepsi 400, he always seemed to be the bridesmaid, winning the July race three times with his first triumph coming in 1975.

Petty was the perennial runner-up in the Pepsi 400, finishing second four times. When Pearson pulled off his three-peat of the 400 between 1972-74, Petty finished second all three times.

"I remember Richard Petty's crew chief Dale Inman flashing up a seven-time Daytona 500 winner postcard," Wood remembered. "I said, 'Yes and no Firecracker wins.' "

Even though Wood's nephews Glen Jr. and Len handle all the day-to-day operations of the Wood Brothers, Leonard still remains active with the team. Elliott Sadler, the current driver of the famed No. 21, has been on a tear at Daytona, finishing third in last year's Pepsi 400 and second in February's Daytona 500.

Sadler, who has asked to be released from his contract with the Wood Brothers at season's end, is one of the favorites to win this year's Pepsi 400.

"It would suit me fine. I'm ready for it," Wood said. "He has decided to go somewhere else, but we would love to put him in the winner's circle as many times as possible."

Tickets for the Pepsi 400 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Richard Petty , Elliott Sadler , David Pearson
Teams Wood Brothers Racing