Sons make sure Eddie Wood, patriarch of Wood Brothers team, extends streak of attending every Daytona 500

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – One of the most impressive streaks of consistency in NASCAR history will remain intact in Sunday’s 56th Daytona 500.

Glen Wood, patriarch of the legendary Wood Brothers race team along with younger brother Leonard, will be in attendance for the race.

There had been concern that Wood’s 55-year streak of his pilgrimage to the Great American Race would come to an end, but sons Eddie and Len made sure that their father would continue his history-setting mark.

“I knew I needed to come in a sense, but when (wife) Bernice said she wasn’t gonna come, I had made up my mind that I would stay home,” Glen Wood said in a Ford media release.

Extrapolated more, Glen Wood has been coming to Daytona actually since 1947, racing on the beaches. He was the last driver to win in a beach race in 1958 as the predecessor to the Daytona 500, which began in 1959 when Daytona International Speedway opened.

“I think it means more to my family, or at least Len and Eddie, because I’ve been here so many times,” Glen Wood said. “I’ve been to every one since 1947, so this makes 68 (straight years that he’s been coming to Daytona). They didn’t want me to stop that.

“I told them I’m getting old and it has to stop before long, but they told me it wasn’t going to be this time.  Eddie called up and said he had it all figured out, so how could I refuse?”

Eddie Wood said returning to Daytona every year is a family affair, and it just wasn’t the same without Dad being there.

“It was like something didn’t feel right all week,” Ed Wood said. “He and my mom both said early on in the winter that they didn’t think they were gonna come so far, and then they had the snow and that kind of finished it right there because we had 12-14 inches in Virginia.

“They usually come down early like we do, but I kept having it in the back of my mind that if everything plays out Len and I wanted to get him here.”

Eddie and Len hatched an impromptu plan, deciding Thursday that Eddie would fly back to Concord, N.C., pick up his father and make the eight-hour drive together to Daytona in a, what else, brand new high-horsepower Ford Taurus SHO.

“On midday Thursday I got to thinking about it and decided I was gonna get him either way because we were going to be here even if we didn’t make the race,” Eddie Wood said. “When I called dad and told him I was gonna fly home and pick him up, I could tell he got excited.

“The key thing that told me he really wanted to come was when he asked what time the plane was going to leave in the morning. I told him that we were gonna drive his car and he said OK. He hasn’t flown in years. He doesn’t like to fly and never has, except for Curtis Turner. He loved to fly with him, but I knew that if he was willing to fly back down here, he really wanted to come.

“So we went to dinner last night with Mr. (Edsel) Ford and it was just like everything was like it was supposed to be. It was like a piece was missing and things weren’t going right, and then all of a sudden Trevor (Bayne) runs a great race (in the Budweiser Duels), dad is here and everything is complete.

“Daytona from the first week of February to the third week is where we’re supposed to be. Any way you cut it, that’s where we’re supposed to be.”

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IMSA: Rolex 24 Team Preview – GTLM

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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MotorSportsTalk’s Kyle Lavigne continues the team preview of entries for the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona with the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. At nine entries, it is the smallest of the three classes entered in this weekend’s Rolex 24 and down from last year’s 11 entries, but past events indicate it may be the event’s most competitive class.

The 2017 Rolex 24 saw four different marques from four different teams battling for the GTLM win late in the race, with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing taking the win with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais. And in 2016, Corvette Racing saw its No. 3 and 4 entries duel to the checkered flag, with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Marcel Fassler victorious in the No. 4 machine.

Below is a breakdown of the teams entered in the GTLM class.

Corvette Racing
Car: Corvette C7.R
No. 3 (Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller)
No. 4 (Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler)

Outlook: Corvette Racing has been a perennial powerhouse in GT racing over the entirety of the 21st century, and that isn’t something that’s likely to change. Coming off their 13th championship last year – Garcia and Magnussen took home last year’s GTLM driver’s crown – Corvette Racing now hunts for its fourth Rolex 24 triumph.

With an unchanged package that is proven to be both fast and reliable, Corvette Racing looks set to again feature prominently in the GTLM battle. Barring problems, both cars should be battling up front for the win.

BMW Team RLL
Car: BMW M8 GTLM
No. 24 (Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus)
No. 25 (Alexander Sims, Connor De Phillippi, Bill Auberlen, Philipp Eng)

Outlook: Of all the GTLM entries, BMW Team RLL sees by far the most change to its program. Out is the M6 GTLM and in is the brand new M8 GTLM. Jesse Krohn, Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus, Philipp Eng and Connor De Phillippi are all new drivers to the team, while veteran Bill Auberlen will only contest the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in 2018.

At the Roar Before the 24, the program appeared to lack speed. Sunday qualifying, to decide pit stall and garage selection, saw the No. 25 qualify the better of the two BMWs, but one second slower than the next quickest car – the BMW set a 1:45.056 for seventh in GTLM, behind the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, which set a 1:44.037.

It remains to be seen if there is more speed in the BMW machines, but they remain the most unproven of the GTLM entries. A victory seems out of reach at the moment, but that could change if the package improves.

Risi Competizione
Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
No. 62 (Toni Vilander, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Davide Rigon)

Outlook: Risi Competizione came excruciatingly close to winning last year’s Rolex, but a late-race battle between James Calado and Dirk Mueller, of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, saw Mueller come out on top, while Calado was shuffled back to third by the time the checkered flag fell.

They did not win an event last year, but this is a team that knows how to win big races – they have previously won the Motul Petit Le Mans – and should once again prove to be a major player in the GTLM battle.

The only major change comes in their driver lineup, with Alessandro Pier Guidi and David Rigon joining the lineup and Giancarlo Fisichella departing. But, with Calado and Toni Vilander returning to anchor the driving team, this change is not expected to slow the team down. Expect them to battle at the front all race long.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Car: Ford GT
No. 66 (Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais)
No. 67 (Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon)

Outlook: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing returns to the Rolex 24 as defending race winners – Hand, Mueller, and Bourdais delivered the victory in 2017. Further, they return with the same driver lineups and car they used. In short, every indication is that they enter this year’s event as favorites to repeat.

The Roar Before the 24 gave further evidence of this. Both of the cars were among the quickest in every session at the Roar, and Sunday qualifying saw its No. 66 end up at the top of the board, with the No. 67 in third.

The GTLM field is strong all the way around, but this team is likely the favorite entering the event.

Porsche GT Team
Car: Porsche 911 RSR

No. 911 (Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki)
No. 912 (Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Gianmaria Bruni)

Outlook: Porsche GT Team brings with it a star-studded driver lineup that features former class winners of the Rolex 24, former overall winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a ton of all-around talent.

The team finished a close second at last year’s Rolex 24, with the No. 911 entry, behind the race-winning Ford from Chip Ganassi’s stable. Later that year, they visited victory lane – Porsche finished 1-2 at Lime Rock Park, with the No. 911 taking the victory – proving that the mid-engine 911 RSR is more than up to the task and gives the team everything they need to be contenders.

Porsche will have a fight on their hands, but this is a team that expects to compete for a victory, and they did win this event in 2014. They round out a titanic GTLM grid and should be a fixture throughout the day.

Follow@KyleMLavigne