Guinness officially recognizes Wood Brothers as NASCAR’s longest active team

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Times have changed. Teams have come and gone. And NASCAR has turned from Southern curiosity to a sport embraced in many corners of the country.

But through it all, Wood Brothers Racing has endured.

Now, as they prepare to embark on their 65th season of racing, they’ve been officially recognized as NASCAR’s longest active team by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Getting recognition from the world’s foremost authority on achievements both big and small was, as the team tells it, a personal mission of Jon Wood – former NASCAR driver and grandson of team co-founder Glen Wood.

The story goes like this: Jon recently uncovered a copy of the book’s 50th anniversary edition while going through piles of junk at his home. As he’d been working on a logo to celebrate the Wood Brothers’ 65th anniversary, he was reminded of his childhood belief that one day, he’d do something worthy enough of being in the book’s pages.

Knowing that his family team had been generally considered as NASCAR’s longest active team – but not officially recognized as such – Jon promptly sent off an application for a record claim to the Guinness website.

A sports records coordinator from Guinness got back to him and expressed interest in helping. Jon then enlisted the help of Buz McKim, the historian at NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, to help him verify his claim.

Soon enough, Guinness made things official.

“I realize that when it comes to the Book, the first thought in some people’s minds are some of the wacky, crazy records, like one for the most sneezes in one minute or something,” Jon said in a team release. “But on the flip side to that, whether it’s a record of a silly nature, or serious ones like land-speed records, there is only one global authority, and that is the Guinness Book of World Records.

“My goal was to both validate the claim that Wood Brothers Racing is the longest active team in NASCAR and also honor my grandfather and his brother, Leonard, for what I believe to be an astounding accomplishment.”

As you’d expect, Glen Wood was appreciative of his grandson’s efforts.

“This is pretty big for us,” he said. “It’s a big deal to us and I’m sure a big deal to Ford. Without their support from day one, there is no way we would be where we are today.

“We’ve come a long way since the days under a beech tree. We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs, so when we get recognition like this, it just makes it all the more meaningful.”

The Wood Brothers will run a part-time schedule in 2015 with Sprint Cup newcomer Ryan Blaney.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.