Last Sunday’s race in the Pocono Mountains was just a hum-drum race until the finish when the Wood Brothers and Ryan Blaney squeaked out a victory. Blaney, another of those young guns, and the future of NASCAR, won his first career victory and gave the Wood Brothers their 99th victory.
Wood Brothers Racing, now owned equally by Glen and his children Eddie, Len and Kim, holds the record for the longest active NASCAR racing team. They are the oldest continuously operating NASCAR Cup Series team and the team has always raced Ford products.
Twenty of NASCAR’s greatest drivers have driven for Wood Brothers Racing. That list includes Curtis Turner, Tiny Lund, Fireball Roberts, Bob Welborn, Dale Jarrett, A.J. Foyt, Glen Wood, Buddy Baker, Marvin Panch, Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Ned Jarrett, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Joe Weatherly, Ralph Earnhardt, Neil Bonnett, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, and Bill Elliott. Rookie Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500, the last Wood Brothers win, prior to the Pocono 400.
Once again Kyle Busch had the dominant race car throughout the race, but a late caution with 19 laps to go caused the Joe Gibbs Racing Team to make a decision, pit for fresh tires or stay out and keep the lead. Whatever they did, the rest of the field would do the opposite.
Busch opted to stay out so most of the field pitted for fresh Goodyear tires. It only took a few thrilling laps for Blaney to pass Kyle Busch and then hold off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick and go on to his first career victory.
“The [No.] 18 stayed out. He looked to be the best car all day,” Blaney said. “Once we got to second, I knew he would fall off hard. It was a pretty good race to get by Kyle, then to hold off Kevin — props to him for racing me clean.”
The only scary moments happened for multiple brake failures that halted the race in turn 1. The first was an odd one between Jimmy Johnson and Jamie McMurray, each suffering brake failures at nearly the same time on lap 95. This brought out the red flag for more than 23 minutes. Johnson took a hard hit into the wall and had to sit down on the track to collect his thoughts. McMurray had to make a quick exit of his car as it caught on fire. Both drivers are fine. Then Kasey Kahne had the same brake problems, bringing out the final caution flag with 19 laps to go.
Hendrick Motorsports had an abysmal day with Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. and Kahne all dropping out of the race. Joe Gibbs Racing is still winless this year. At this point in the season last year, Joe Gibbs Racing had seven victories with all the Gibbs drivers securing at least one win.