NASCAR’s qualifying rules have been changed back to an earlier format, one that puts more emphasis on performance during qualifying rather than rewarding teams for past performances.
It’s a perfect environment for the Wood Brothers and Motorcraft/Quick Lane to roll out their 2013 Ford Fusion. This Fusion, while carrying the shapes and style of the street-legal Fusions, is decked out in the same colors as the 1963 Ford Galaxie that Tiny Lund drove to victory in the Daytona 500 for the Woods on Feb. 24, 1963, 50 years ago to the day from this year’s 500.
The Rangoon Red-and-Corinthian White paint scheme is part of the effort of the current generation of Wood racers to honor the team’s long-time chief mechanic and crew chief Leonard Wood, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame last week.
“It’s a real honor to be able to do something like this for our uncle,” said Eddie Wood, one of the co-owners of the team.
Wood also is anxious to get back on the track with a Ford Fusion that, like the ’63 Ford Galaxie back in the day, has the kind of appeal that sends race fans to the local dealership after their favorite race car wins in NASCAR.
“I’ve have at least a dozen people come up to me recently and say they went out and bought a 1963 Galaxie after Tiny Lund won the Daytona 500,” Wood said, adding that a true-to-life replica of Lund’s winning Ford will be on display in the Fan Zone at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks.
The real emphasis for the Woods and their current driver Trevor Bayne will be in the garage and on the track as they compete in the 55th running of the Daytona 500.
Even after 63 years of NASCAR racing and a Hall of Fame induction, Leonard Wood, who still works with the team, is looking out his windshield instead of his rear-view mirror as he heads to Speedweeks, where his team has five wins in NASCAR’s showcase race.
During his Hall of Fame induction, he talked about how happy he was to see his nephews, Eddie and Len, and his niece Kim, along with crew chief Donnie Wingo, win the 2011 Daytona 500. He also laid out his hopes for this year.
“I want to see them do it again this year,” he said.
He believes they’ve got the driver to do it in a new car and with a new style of racing, now that the two-car tandem that Bayne used so skillfully in 2011 appears to have become a thing of the past with the change to the 2013 cars.
“He seems to me he’s matured enough that I think he’s got what it takes to win the Daytona 500,” Wood said.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, Feb. 17, at 1:10 p.m. Eastern Time. The 150-mile Budweiser Duels qualifying races are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m., and the 55th annual Daytona 500 should get the green flag just after 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.