Ryan Blaney Eyeing Historic Win In First Data 500

The Wood Brothers Racing team has a long history both at Martinsville Speedway and in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Stuart, Virginia based team ran their first NASCAR Premier Series race at the Speedway in 1953 and haven’t looked back since, amassing 99 wins since.

That number, however, is something that current driver Ryan Blaney would like to change before the season ends. The 23-year-old said he sees no better place to earn win No. 100 than at the Woods’ home track.

“That would be really special. With them being from Stuart, that would be a neat place to get that 100th win,” Blaney said. “That’s a home track for those guys and a home track for me too, growing up in High Point (North Carolina) just 45 minutes down the road.”

Blaney earned win No. 99 for the team over the summer, clinching a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Despite his team’s and his own lack of experience in the knockout format, Blaney has wheeled the No. 21 car into the Round of Eight, which begins on Sunday at Martinsville with the First Data 500.

Nerves, Blaney said, are not a factor for him in the Playoffs.

“People make a big deal about the Playoffs, and it is a big deal, but at the end of the day it is just racing. That’s what we do,” Blaney said. “Being a rookie playoff driver with a rookie playoff team, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We don’t know what to expect and we can do what we have done all year – try to win races and stages.”

Team owner Eddie Wood echoed his driver’s sentiments.

“Being in the playoffs is a new experience for us and for Ryan,” Wood said. “We’re enjoying it rather than worrying about it…

“We feel fortunate to get through two rounds, and it’s really cool to have come this far and still have an opportunity to go to Homestead-Miami Speedway and compete for the title on Ford Championship Weekend.”

Blaney came home 25th at Martinsville earlier this season, a finish he would like to improve on.

“I thought we had a pretty good run there in the spring, but just couldn’t get the finish (we wanted),” Blaney said. “To do it (get the 100th win) for them at that specific racetrack would be cool.”

This year the historic track celebrates its 70th anniversary. The weekend starts on Friday with Practice Day and continues on Saturday with the Texas Roadhouse 200 Presented By Alpha Energy Solutions NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Race.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be in action on Sunday with the running of the First Data 500.

The First Data 500 is the first race in the Round of 8 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. If the winning driver is in the Playoffs, he or she would be the first to clinch a spot in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Last fall, Jimmie Johnson won his ninth grandfather clock, on the way to winning his record-tying seventh NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Tickets for the First Data 500 are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

Martinsville Speedway PR/Photo Getty Images for NASCAR

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