Paul Menard aiming to honor late Glen Wood with Martinsville win

first_imgCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Martinsville Speedway, the smallest track on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, is a special place for the Wood brothers, whose hometown is a close 30 miles away in Stuart, Virginia.The Wood Brothers Racing team has been competing at the legendary short track for seven decades and the current driver of the No. 21 Ford Mustang, Paul Menard, will be behind the wheel this weekend for the STP 500 (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).Late Wood Brothers Racing team founder Glen Wood made his first start in the Cup Series in 1953 at Martinsville. This weekend, a win at the short track would mean even more to Menard and the entire team.RELATED: NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood dies at 93“It would be huge,” Menard told NASCAR.com on Thursday. “It would be a big deal, especially this weekend as we honor Mr. Glen Wood, so I can’t think of a better way to honor him than to win at Martinsville.”Wood, who had been the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, passed away on Jan. 18 at 93.A win this weekend would not only honor the his legacy, it would also mark the team’s 100th Cup Series win.Menard has 23 starts under his belt at Martinsville with just two top-10 finishes, but the 38-year-old from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is on the hunt for his second career victory.With the debut of a new rules package this season, drivers have been faced with a lot of unknowns. As the series heads into the sixth race weekend of 2019, however, things are becoming clearer for Menard and Co.“We’re just trying to understand this package and what it wants. It seems like, for us, we can get on either side of the balance so easily, so trying to figure out how to make small adjustments to the car without overdoing it so we’re not teeter-tottering back and forth between loose and tight throughout the race,” Menard said. “That’s just work in progress. We’re building our notebook, our database and that’s just going to improve.”The veteran considers Martinsville a track that nods to the old days, putting a spotlight on the kind of aggressive, nowhere-to-hide racing that a lot of drivers — himself included — grew up on.“Martinsville is definitely a throwback to how our series started with the short-track racing and how a lot of us drivers started with running around little short tracks throughout the Midwest or California or the Southwest, or wherever you’re from,” he said.“… It’s a lot of fun to drive at Martinsville; you have all this horsepower and not much grip and the cars accelerate really hard, but they don’t stop very good. So, that always makes corner entry really exciting but once you get racing, it’s kind of like 100-mile-per-hour bumper cars. You’re literally around cars all day long, trying to pass cars, trying to stay off other cars’ fenders to keep your fenders from cutting down tires. It’s a battle for 500 laps.”Wood Brothers Racing also has an alliance with Team Penske, which has seen plenty of 2019 success thus far with two wins (Atlanta and Las Vegas) through five races. The partnership has given Menard and the No. 21 team confidence that their breakthrough is on the way.“For us, we know that with the alliance we have with Team Penske, we have the equipment to get it done. It’s just up to us to make the right adjustments throughout the race and keep track position. Maintain track position and make good adjustments and we’ll have success,” Menard said. “We have everything we need, just a matter of putting all the pieces together to make it happen.”MORE: Wood Brothers through the yearsFor those interested in honoring Glen Wood, Menard and the team will be at the Wood Brothers Racing Museum in Stuart, Virginia, on Friday for a tribute to the late team founder. Fans, family members, friends and former drivers will be there from 4-7 p.m. ET.His son Eddie Wood said the tribute will be open to anyone who wishes to participate.last_img

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