Ford Performance NASCAR: Ryan Blaney-Wood Brothers-Omnicraft

Ford PR


Date: Friday June 16, 2017

Event: Fire Keepers Casino 400 (Media Availability)

Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Michigan International Speedway (2.0-mile oval)

Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 21 Omnicraft Ford Fusion, met with media members at Michigan International Speedway Friday morning ahead of opening Cup Series practice. Blaney, along with team owners Len and Eddie Wood and Brett Wheatley, executive director of North America for Ford Customer Service Division spoke about Blaney’s Cup Series victory last weekend at Pocono, the week after his win and the new sponsor colors he is sporting this weekend at MIS.

RYAN BLANEY, No. 21 Omnicraft Ford Fusion — YOU SPORT A NEW SPONSOR, OMNICRAFT, THIS WEEKEND, A WEEK AFTER YOUR FIRST CAREER CUP WIN. A WEEK OF FIRSTS FOR YOU. “Yeah, it is great to bring something a little bit new to the race team and even though Omnicraft is a part of Ford and Motorcraft it is something completely different. Motorcraft is strictly Ford and Lincoln parts but Omnicraft covers everything. You can get it for any make or any vehicle. That is great and it is widening their expansion and covering all sides of it. Honestly, it is nice to be back at the race track after this week of doing all the media things and it kind of distracts you from the task at hand. It is nice to be here back with the team and have a new little look with the Wood Brothers car. I can’t thank Ford and Omnicraft enough for jumping on board. It should be a good weekend. It is always really exciting anytime we come to Michigan to try to win for Ford up here and we will try to make that happen.”

BRETT WHEATLEY, executive director of North America, Ford Customer Service Division — CAN YOU TOUCH ON WHAT OMNICRAFT IS? WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO BE THE SPONSOR ON THIS RACE-WINNING CAR? “Fantastic. Omnicraft is a brand for all makes and vehicles. So Motorcraft is something that we introduced and obviously, it’s the brand that everybody associates with the quality with OE parts with Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Omnicraft is the first brand we’ve introduced within the Ford Motor Company in 50 years. Now, whether you’re in a Toyota, Honda, whatever you’re driving, we’ve got the part for you. They’re going to be available in Ford and Lincoln dealerships as well as over 800 Quick Lane and very soon in independent garages if the customer chooses to go there. As far as last week, it was incredible. I was fortunate enough to have dinner with Ryan (Blaney) the Thursday before Pocono and we were talking about Omnicraft being on the hood and I said, ‘Ryan, it would be really, really cool to get that first career win when we land at Michigan at MIS. It would be great if you could make that happen. The one thing that I love about Ryan is that he always exceeds expectations, so he got a jump on it. It was very, very special. It was an incredible race. I’ve been watching races for a long time. I haven’t seen a race like that, those final 10 laps, anybody what Ryan did. Just incredible. We’re really proud of him. And it’s been incredible for Motorcraft and now Omnicraft brand. Really appreciative of all the support of all the support of the Wood Brothers to get win No. 99. Very special for Ford Motor Company.”

IT’S NOT COINCIDENCE THAT YOU CHOSE MICHIGAN TO UNVEIL THIS NEW CAR IS IT? “It’s our backyard. We’re going to have a lot of executives here. Hosting about 1100 Ford employees on Sunday. So everybody wants to meet the teams, drivers, so it’s something very, very special to be in our backyard. Just perfect.”

EDDIE WOOD, Owner, Wood Brothers Racing — YOU GUYS HAVE ENJOYED A LIFE-LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH FORD MOTOR COMPANY. IT SEEMS APPROPRIATE THAT WHEN FORD ROLLED OUT THIS NEW PRODUCT IT WAS WITH THE WOOD BROTHERS AND THE 21 CAR: “That’s probably the single-most important thing to our family; the relationship that we have with Ford Motor Company. It started with our dad and uncles in 1950 and we’ve never raced anything but Ford Motor Company products. That’s probably the biggest thing that we’re proud of in our whole organization. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs through the years, Ford Motor Company was always there. Now we have the Motorcraft/Quick Lane on our car week-to- week. To kick-off this Omnicraft paint scheme with what that means, you now that you’re going to get great service at Ford dealerships and Quick Lane’s, and if you don’t have a Ford Motor Company vehicle, you can take anything you’ve got there and they have the parts there. That’s a really cool thing. A great idea.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED — BY ALL ACCOUNTS THE WIN LAST WEEKEND WAS VERY POPULAR WITH FANS AND IN THE GARAGE. WHAT WAS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE REACTION AND WHAT DID THAT TELL YOU ABOUT HOW PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT THE DRIVER AND THE TEAM? “I think all around, from teams to drivers to fans it was all positive. That is pretty cool to see. I don’t think I saw one negative thing on social media which is really neat. It is cool that everyone supports the Wood Brothers like they do and want to see them in victory lane. For me it is a bonus to be driving for them. I saw a really neat video of a phone recording from the stands when we did or victory lap and everyone was on their feet cheering. That was really cool for me to see the support we had in the stands, at home and on TV of people watching. It made me feel good to know that people support us that much. That is cool to see. We don’t get that too much nowadays.”

WHAT WAS THE REACTION TO YOU NOT DOING A BURNOUT? “This year I kind of decided that I didn’t really want to do one anymore. When I was younger I used to do them and love them. They are fun to do. I just thought it was fitting not to do one in the Wood Brothers car because traditionally that is not how they used to do it. They used to just kind of go around and wave at the fans so I figured that is what we would do. Probably the biggest regret of not having my radio working was I couldn’t find these guys. I couldn’t find where they were and pick them up. I didn’t really see any negative things about not doing a burnout. I thought it was fitting for the Wood Brothers team.”

WAS THERE ANY PRESSURE ON YOU HEADING INTO POCONO HAVING COME SO CLOSE TO WINNING PRIOR TO THAT? “No, not much. I go into every weekend with the same mindset of trying to focus on what we need to do to try to win that weekend. I know we have had a chance to win a handful of races over the course of the last year and a half with the Wood Brothers and things just had not fallen our way. Things finally came into place for us. I didn’t feel pressure coming in but I felt a little pressure lifted after that win because we had a really rough month and a half there in our season and the playoffs were starting to look shaky. I try not to look at points much but it was getting down there and there were three of four guys behind us that had won races and a lot of really good cars we are racing with right now that will make it tough over these summer months. That part was looking shaky but that kind of relief came of being in the playoffs now, knowing we are going to be in after Richmond, but you still really can’t go run 15th or 20th every week. You have to run up front to build your stock for the playoffs. So, no pressure before but I felt a little was lifted off our shoulders after the win.”

BRETT WHEATLEY CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE SPONSORSHIP OF THE WOOD BROTHERS AND HOW IT HAS PAID OFF FOR MOTORCRAFT/QUICK LANE OVER THE YEARS?  “The sponsorship has been great. We have been tied with the Wood Brothers since 2001 and they have been phenomenal. We are proud to be associated with them. As Eddie said, they have only ever run Ford Motor Company products and the fit is fantastic. We are proud to be old school. Whether it is no-burnouts or the radios aren’t working, we are really proud of the long time relationship we have and it has been phenomenal for our brand. What Ryan and the team have been able to do for us from a business standpoint this year – we look at the media value of what it has done for our brands and it is upwards of $50-billion right now. What it does for our dealer body, independent installers using Motorcraft parts and our Quick Lane stores. Everyone is at an all-time high. I wish you could have all been in our Dearborn office Monday morning. We had flags flying and confetti. We had everything but some of the beverages Ryan had on Sunday. It was a great morning in Dearborn.”

RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED — “Yeah, that wouldn’t have made for a productive work day if you guys had done that. With the text messages, I didn’t get back to my phone, I left it in my bus before intros. I called my Dad first. Before I talked to anyone else I wanted to talk to him. I had about a 45-minute drive to the airport and then sitting on the plane for awhile I was able to get through them all. It was a little under 200. I was able to get through them all before we took off. I was proud of that to be able to sift through them all. I had my red’s on and you don’t want to leave anyone on red. It made me feel good. I think the coolest thing I got wasn’t a text but Mario Andretti tweeted at me. That was really cool. He said something about us and the Wood Brothers team winning. That was the neatest thing I saw.”

EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED — YOU GOT YOUR 99TH WIN LAST WEEK AND HAVE ENJOYED PAST SUCCESS AT MICHIGAN. IS THE 100TH WIN RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER? “You never know. Going into Pocono I felt like we were really going to run well but you never know when you are going to win a race or if you have won your last one. You never know. It would be great to win the 100th here. I think Cale Yarborough won the very first race they ever had here. I think there is a picture of it right over there on the wall. It would really be cool to do the 100th here with it being in Ford Motor Company’s backyard, Motocraft’s backyard. It would be an honor to win up here.”

LEN WOOD — “You know, having to pass Kyle Busch last weekend for that win, and then here comes Harvick. That was two champions that Ryan beat. We were very happy.”

BRETT WHEATLEY CONTINUED — WHEN WILL OMNICRAFT PARTS BE AVAILABLE AT DEALERSHIPS AND PARTS STORES? “We started shipping first of the year so they are in dealerships now. We have a great supply with all the major maintenance items right now like brake pads, rotors, starters, alternators. We are well stocked and by the end of the year we will have coverage for 90% of all vehicles on the road. No matter what your car is, we will have you covered at our dealerships and at Quick Lane.”

 IT WILL BE CLOUDY THE NEXT FEW DAYS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR TRACK CONDITIONS? “I don’t know. Tomorrow doesn’t look great. Maybe today we might get a little practice in I hope. I think we ran this lower downforce package here last year so we have a little idea of what it will be like but the teams always make improvements to the cars and how they drive from the year before, even week to week. We have a small idea but if it rains tomorrow and we just jump on the track Sunday, with all that rain it just washes all the rubber off and makes the track really fast and teams might not know how their car might drive. I think most of us will be in race trim today because tomorrow looks so iffy. We got lucky the last two weeks at Dover and Pocono. Those are usually the rain tracks so I guess we were due one I guess. Hopefully we can get it in on Sunday.”


Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.