Wood Brothers set to reach key milestone at Talladega

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The Wood Brothers are one of the most legendary teams in NASCAR lore.

With 1,419 starts, 98 wins, 337 top-five and 522 top-10 finishes and 116 poles, the team’s 61-year history has been marked with success throughout.

But nowhere is that success more pronounced than on superspeedway tracks – those of two miles or more in length.

The Wood Brothers have won 36 times on superspeedways: 15 at Daytona, 11 at Michigan, twice at Pocono and three times at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway.

And then there’s Talladega Superspeedway, where the longtime Virginia-based family racing operation has compiled five wins.

Providing driver Trevor Bayne qualifies on speed, Sunday’s Geico 500 at ‘Dega will mark a significant milestone in Wood Bros. annals: its 400th superspeedway start.

“Getting to 400 superspeedway starts isn’t just another number,” Eddie Wood, one of the team’s current co-owners, said in a team media release. “It’s something we are proud of.

“It shows that our team has performed consistently well on those size tracks. We’ve always had more success on the bigger speedways. They just seem to suit us for some reason.”

Nine drivers have earned superspeedway wins for the Wood Bros. over the years: NASCAR Hall of Famers David Pearson (18) and Cale Yarborough (6), A.J. Foyt (4), the late Neil Bonnett (3), and one each by Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett, Tiny Lund, Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker and Bayne, who earned the team’s most recent superspeedway triumph in the 2011 Daytona 500.

Team founder Glen Wood and long-time crew chief Leonard Wood are both also in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

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Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’: Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.