By AMANDA VINCENT
Wood Brothers Racing has left the Race Team Alliance, as reported by multiple sources, includin one by USA Today. The team’s departure from the group of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owners organized by Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman comes on the heels of NASCAR’s recent announcement of the new charter system of race team ownership. Wood Brothers Racing, the oldest team in NASCAR, did not receive a charter, at least partly because the team hadn’t competed full-time in the Sprint Cup Series the last several seasons. Wood Brothers Racing, though, plans to field its No. 21 Ford full-time this season with series rookie Ryan Blaney behind the wheel.
As an “open” team, Blaney will have to qualify his way into races all season.
“It’s all going to work out. I promise,” Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Eddie Wood said, according to the USA Today article. “It’s going to be okay. The way the thing is structured, if you do what you’re supposed to do performance-wise, it will all work out. We’ve been racing a long, long time.”
With race fields reduced to 40 cars, from the previous 43, four spots will be up for grabs for each race with the 36 chartered teams guaranteed starting spots.
Not receiving a charter didn’t come as a surprise to the team, according to business manager Jon Wood. He said during a press conference last week that the direction taken by preliminary discssions on the charter system pointed at Wood Brothers Racing not receiving one.
Despite the charter distribution not including Wood Brothers Racing and resulting in the race team leaving the RTA, there doesn’t seem to be hard feelings on the race team.
“You can’t really blame anybody for the way it went,” Jon Wood said. “We’re just in a different situation. Being on a part-time schedule, you can’t look back and say, ‘This is what we should have done.’ “
According to Wood, the departure simply was a matter of the race team and the RTA having “two totally different ideas and two totally different approaches.”
After the RTA was formed in mid-2014, Wood Brothers Racing was a late addition. Originally the negotiating group consisted of Sprint Cup Series teams fielding full-time entries. At the time, Wood Brothers Racing was a part-time team.
Blaney and the No. 21 team have locked in a spot for Sunday’s Daytona 500, as Blaney posted the fastest single-car, single-lap time among non-chartered teams during Daytona 500 front-row qualifying at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Feb. 14.
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