Wood Brothers Hit Milestone

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Wood Brothers Racing has had a lot to reminisce about during the 2000 season. It also has a lot to look forward to during the 2001 campaign.

The legendary Winston Cup team, which celebrated its 50th year of existence this year, is expected next week to announce Quality Care/Ford Credit as its new primary sponsor for its No. 21 Fords, driven by Elliott Sadler, for the 2001 season and beyond. Quality Care/Ford Credit will replace long-time Wood Brothers sponsor Citgo, which is expected to announce early next week that it will sponsor Jeff Burton's Roush Racing Taurus next season.

The Wood Brothers will also hit a monumental milestone this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. When Sadler takes the green flag for the NAPA AutoCare 500 on Sunday afternoon, it will mark the Wood Brothers' 1000th career start.

To commemorate the occasion, Sadler's Ford will sport the colors of the team's founder, Glen Wood. The Taurus will be solid red, flashing back to the days of yore when Wood owned and drove the car.

"We started racing in 1950 with a car we bought for $50," Wood said. "We decided to put the number 50 on the side of the car because it just seemed like the right thing to do. Now here we are, 50 years later, and this sport of NASCAR has emerged like no one ever thought it would.

"I knew the France family had high hopes for the sport, but no one was convinced it would catch on and be this big. I had no idea we'd be around long enough to run 1,000 races and enjoy the success we've had."

In a half century, the Wood Brothers team has 96 Winston Cup victories to its credit (four of those by Wood), including 80 superspeedway triumphs. The team has won 116 poles and won at least one superspeedway race for 21 consecutive years (1963-83).

Several Hall of Fame drivers and other standouts have donned the colors of Wood Brothers Racing through the years. That list includes the likes of Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker, Ralph Earnhardt, Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, A.J. Foyt, Tommy Ellis, Banjo Matthews, Marvin Panch, Tiny Lund, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett and Dale Jarrett.

Without a doubt, however, the most successful Wood Brothers driver was Pearson. Between 1972 and 1978, Pearson notched 45 victories in the No. 21 machine, including an incredible 11 triumphs in only 18 starts in 1973.

"We've been fortunate enough to have some very talented drivers," Wood said. "I've seen some of the greatest drivers that have ever lived in our cars and it makes me proud. I will always be proud of this team.

"Jack (Roush) is a big part of our operation now, and that will play a part in us getting back to winning races. NASCAR is huge now and it doesn't matter if I'm the owner or driver, there is nothing more rewarding than winning."

The Wood Brothers team hasn’t been to victory lane in the Winston Cup Series since 1993, with Morgan Shepherd as the driver.

Sadler, in his second full season on the Winston Cup circuit, couldn't be more proud to wear the Wood Brothers' colors on such a historic occasion.

"It's an honor to be on this team and it's a privilege to race the historical paint schemes we've run this year," Sadler said. "Glen Wood founded this team and this weekend, our CITGO Ford will have the same paint scheme that he sported back in the 1950's. It's just awesome to be involved with a team that made the sport what it is today."

Ironically, the team's 1,000 start comes at a track located just 29 miles from it's race shop in Stuart, Va.

Bud Pole Qualifying for the NAPA AutoCare 500 - covered live here on RacingOne.com - is set for Friday afternoon. The green flag is set to drop on Sunday's race shortly after 1 p.m. (EST.)

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