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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Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”