Something Old Something Blue

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CONCORD, N.C. -- The Wood Brothers and Ford Motor Company - what a fitting combination.

Both staples in NASCAR racing for the past half century, the two entities will hook up in a race team/sponsor relationship in the Winston Cup Series beginning in 2001.

Ford Customer Service Division will back the No. 21 Wood Brothers Taurus in a multiyear deal, it was revealed Wednesday at a press conference at Concord Motorsport Park.

Specifically, the Motorcraft Quality Parts faction of Ford will be featured on the red car with white numbering.

The announcement has been anticipated for the past several weeks, and comes on the heels of Roush Racing's announcement Tuesday that it had secured Citgo as its primary sponsor beginning with Sunday's UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Citgo had been the Wood Brothers' sponsor for the past 16 years.

The Wood Brothers are celebrating their 50th year in NASCAR racing in 2000. Since its inception, the race team has run nothing but Ford chassis.

"We view the Ford Motor Company as family," said team co-owner Eddie Wood. "It's like if your dad or your grandfather tells you to do something, then it's usually the right thing to do, and that's how we view things with Ford. When they wanted to come on board with us, we knew it was the right thing to do."

The U.S. Air Force will join Ford’s efforts of bringing the Wood Brothers back to prominence in the Winston Cup Series. The Air Force will take on an associate-sponsorship role on the No. 21 Taurus, beginning next season.

Wood said the two parties began talking after the second Pocono Raceway event in July, and it didn't take long for them to reach an agreement. Wood said the agreement, which will run through the 2005 campaign, will actually be a more lucrative one than the team had with Citgo.

"It is a better deal for us financially, and it's going to allow us to do a little bit more with those resources than we have in the past," Wood said. "We've got a great deal with Roush in that we run their chassis and we lease motors from them, so we're going to be able to make that relationship a lot more lucrative. It's just a great deal for everyone involved."

In his second year as the driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Taurus, Elliott Sadler hopes he and Ford can bring the Wood Brothers racing team back to glory. The team has posted 96 Winston Cup victories since 1951, but hasn't been to victory lane since Morgan Shepherd put them there in 1993.

"I'm only 25 years old, and to be represented by Ford Motor Company at this stage of my career is just unreal," Sadler said. "You really can't think of a more loyal team than the Wood Brothers have been to Ford over the years. Ford has been great to them all of these years, and for them to come onto the car and make it a real visible association, it's just awesome.

"Our main goals are to get this Wood Brothers Taurus back to victory lane. We want to start winning poles and winning races for this team and make them a force in Winston Cup racing once again. We've had a pretty decent season this year, but it hasn't exactly been what we had hoped for. Hopefully Ford's involvement with our race team will put us at the top once again."

Ford's Motorcraft Quality Parts Division was featured on the No. 15 Bud Moore Ford during a period in the 1990s. When Robert Yates expanded his operation to a two-car team, Ford took on a primary sponsorship role of Yates' No. 88 Ford, driven by Dale Jarrett, featuring its Quality Care Division.

Jarrett brought Ford a Winston Cup championship in 1999. The team, however, is expected to announce another primary sponsor for the 2001 campaign and beyond sometime in the near future.

"We've been preparing to re-launch the Motocraft brand in racing for quite some time," said Allen Benson, brand manager for the Ford Customer Service Division. "Naturally, when you think about how to reach your customers, or how your distributors reach their customers, NASCAR Winston Cup racing comes to mind right away. Pairing Motorcraft with the Wood Brothers makes it perfect."

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