Back in the day, when the Wood Brothers were en route to winning five races at Talladega Superspeedway from 1971 to 1980, horsepower, some slick sheet metal and a calculating driver were the most important factors in team’s performance.
But when the green flag drops Sunday to start the Alabama 500 at Talladega, Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Fusion will need all of the above, plus some Quick Lane-type service on pit road if they hope to score stage points, contend for victory and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said it’s fitting that the iconic No. 21 will carry the blue-and-white colors of Quick Lane this weekend at Talladega.
“Pit stops are so important these days,” Wood said. “In the old days at Talladega you could have a slow stop and draft your way back to the front.
“But with the way restrictor-plate races play out now and with so many cars running essentially the same speed, if you have a slow stop, you’re in danger of getting lapped or ending up with such poor track position that you can’t contend for stage points or a victory.”
Wood said the crew of the No. 21 Fusion has been among the fastest and most reliable on pit road all seasons, usually gaining spots on every pit stop and doing so with a minimum of mistakes.
“That’s the same philosophy Ford dealers have with their Quick Lane service,” Wood said. “We hope the work of our pit crew will have the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” effect for Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center dealers as they compete for customers looking for service for their automobiles.”
There’s another reason Quick Lane has taken the primary sponsorship position this weekend.
The team and Quick Lane are promoting the company’s “Trading One Uniform For Another” scholarship program for military veterans who want to pursue careers as automotive technicians.
Now in its second year, the program offers five $10,000 scholarships to veterans who want to enter private life as service technicians.
Anyone can nominate a veteran for the scholarship program by visiting www.QLtradingone.com.
The five winners will be announced on Dec. 26 at the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.
Wood said the motoring public needs good mechanics just as much as a NASCAR race team.
“It takes a high level of maintenance and preparation to get a race car to withstand the punishment of a 500-mile race,” Wood said. “And even the best-built passenger cars benefit from the services of a well-trained mechanic.
“I can’t think of any better candidate for a career as a mechanic than someone who has been serving their country in the Armed Forces.”
Qualifying for the Alabama 500 is set for Saturday at 3:15 p.m. Central Time (4:15 Eastern) and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on NBC.