After sporting the Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors throughout Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford Mustang will be going Menards/Moen neon yellow and blue for this weekend’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But that won’t be the only major change for Paul Menard and the No. 21 team, as well as the rest of the drivers and cars in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Beginning at Atlanta, Cup cars will transition to a higher downforce/lower horsepower package that is intended to foster more side-by-side racing.
That drastic rules change has many veterans in the garage, including Eddie Wood, wondering just how the new engine/aerodynamic combination will play out once the green flag drops on Sunday.
“We tested the new package at Las Vegas, and Paul and the team were pleased with how it went, but no one really knows what to expect when there are 40 cars on the track,” Wood said, adding that NASCAR and its teams have put a lot of work into the new package, which is similar to the one used in last year’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “There’s going to be a big difference in horsepower from what we’re used to, but there’s been a lot of work done and a lot of research put into this rules change so the racing should be good.”
For the Woods and their fellow Ford campaigners, Sunday’s 500-miler at Atlanta will be the first intermediate-track race for the new Ford Mustang.
“We were really happy with the performance of the Mustang at Daytona,” Wood said. “I’m confident the Ford teams have adapted to the new package, and I’m anxious to see how it all plays out at Atlanta.”
Menard will be making his 18th career Cup start at Atlanta, while the Wood Brothers will be making their 107th Atlanta start, with 12 wins, 33 top-five and 45 top-10 finishes at the Georgia track.
Cup qualifying at Atlanta is set for 5:10 p.m. on Friday, and the 325-lap race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.