Charlotte, NC – The legendary Wood Brothers and Leavine Family Racing held a joint press conference on Wednesday during the 2015 Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. Neither of the Ford teams won a race in 2015, but the excitement was evident.
The Wood Brothers will be celebrating their 65th year in NASCAR this year. NASCAR has certified that they are the oldest continuing team of all time. Eddie Wood spoke to the media on what he expects in 2015.
“It is just an honor I guess. I wasn’t around when it began obviously but my dad and his brothers, the first race they ever went to on the way home they burned their car to the ground,” said Wood. “There was a group of people there that I think we’re kind of second guessing our dad, kind of saying that would show old Glen that he doesn’t want to do that. I think that made him mad and gave him incentive to go do it again and they won the second or third time out.
“To still be in the sport is really humbling and we owe all our partners, Ford Motor Company especially, we have had Ford products throughout our entire existence and that is really the basis of what has kept us going. I think our role with Ford Motor Company is to help develop younger drivers and over the past four years I think we have tried to do that with Trevor Bayne, which we had success at the 2011 Daytona 500, so when he moved on to the full time deal for 2015 we were looking for who would be the next guy,” Len Wood said.
“Ryan Blaney’s name kept popping up as the guy we need. I think with choosing Ryan, he was a Team Penske affiliated driver so it made perfect sense to switch the alliance to Penske. Ford helped us through that whole process. I think he has been a winner pretty much everywhere he has been. We lack a couple wins to get to 100. Maybe he can fill the trophy case out.”
Bob Leavine was satisfied with Leavine Family Racing’s year, but looks for more successes in the coming year.
“It was an exciting year, 2014 was an exciting year for us,” Leavine said. “We made some gains and advances and as always sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back but we are excited about what we did. We had some personal bests including Daytona where Michael (McDowell) finished seventh and obviously it was our best finish also. We had solid finishes in Bristol with an 18th and 21st at Homestead. We are excited about that and the steps that we made. In 2015 the momentum is really built off of what we didn’t get done last year. That is motivation. The successes are okay but if you don’t learn from what you did wrong you aren’t going to get any better.
“Our team is motivated by getting better. We are obviously a small team but a team with a lot of heart. I really appreciate the family, my wife and I, this group has become family to us and that is important to us. They really, really give it their all.
“Wally Rodgers has assembled a great group of guys and the desire and determination they show is awesome. We are going to run a minimum of 20 races this year and we are excited about our partners which you will hear about. We are excited about several things, our equipment we get, we run great equipment and I feel really good about it. Secondly, our resource are people and our partners and with that we are looking forward to an improved 2015. Our goals this year, we all set goals, I was asked about that a while ago and our goal is to qualify for every race we go to, qualify well, run strong and run in the top-25. With our people, I believe we can do that. Those are realistic goals for our team.”
Leavine Family Racing driver Michael McDowell is driving the No. 95 Ford and he talks about how 2015 will improve on 2014.
“A lot of what will transfer over is just my relationship with Wally Rodgers,” McDowell said. “It was my first year with Leavine Family Racing last year and we started building momentum halfway through the season. By the end of the year we were starting to figure out the cars and what I needed. I am looking forward to working with Wally again. He has assembled a great team. We had a few changes in the off season and feel like we have been fortunate to add a lot of great people to our organization and with our partnerships and alliances with Ford and Team Penske we feel like we have the tools to go out there and be competitive and like Bob said, we are a small team but still have great equipment and great people.
“I am thankful to be back here racing the Sprint Cup Series and excited to tell you guys a little about what we have going on with our partnerships as well. For us, we can’t do this without our partners and I am excited to have Thrivent Financial back on board again this year. They did a handful of races last year including a debut at Bristol. We are excited to bring new sponsors into the sport and Thrivent is back with us again and we extended their schedule and they are coming on to do a minimum of 10 races and we are really thankful for that and excited about that. For those of you that don’t know what Thrivent is, it is a financial institute that helps Christians be wise with money so that they can live generously. For those of you that know me, it is really cool for me to be partnered with faith-based organizations that understand the value that I have for myself and my family and it gives me a platform to share that. It is more than just a partnership, it is personal and something that is special and that is what makes it authentic and we believe that is where the success will come from.”