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NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood passes away

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Wood Brothers Racing patriarch Glen Wood, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012, died Friday. He was 93.

The team announced his passing Friday morning on social media.

Wood was a link to NASCAR’s early years.

A former driver – he won four times at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. – Glen Wood founded the Wood Brothers Racing team with brothers Leonard and Delano. In Wood’s first win at Bowman Gray Stadium in April 1960, he beat a field that included former champions Richard Petty, Rex White, Ned Jarrett and Lee Petty. Wood’s history also includes seeing Tim Flock race with a monkey and having Ralph Earnhardt drive convertible and sportsman cars for the team.

His racing career nearly ended as soon as it started. Wood and a friend paid $50 for a 1938 Ford coupe to go racing. The Stuart, Virginia, native ran his first race at a track near Martinsville. During the heat race, his car was hit and bent the rear-end housing. After the race, Wood and his friend hooked the race car to the vehicle they were driving and headed home.

But on the trip, the axle eventually broke, and the damage caused spilling fuel to ignite. The fire engulfed the back of the race car.

“Every once in a while one of them (gas cans) would blow up, and we would be afraid to get close to it because of that,” Wood recalled in a 2011 interview. “Finally we got it unhooked and got the car away from (the one pulling it) and let it burn because we couldn’t do anything about it.”

They salvaged the engine and repaired the car. A few weeks later, Wood was back racing.

While Leonard is often credited as the father of the modern pit stop, Glen was equally as responsible. The two developed a communication and strategy plan that was one of the best in NASCAR for several decades.

Wood Brothers Racing, which has 99 Cup victories, remains the oldest continuous racing team in NASCAR. Among the drivers that have raced for the team are Hall of Famers David Pearson, Curtis Turner, Junior Johnson, Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott.

Born on July 18, 1925, Glen retired as a driver at the age of 39, assuming full-time duties as the team’s chief administrator, a role that he handled for nearly 30 years before relegating the role to sons Eddie and Len.

Through the years, Wood’s name mysteriously changed. His birth certificate lists his first name as Glenn, but somewhere along the way the last letter was dropped.

Wood received the colorful nickname of “Wood Chopper” early on for how he used to cut timber at a Virginia sawmill. But when Glen started racing, that nickname followed him and became somewhat of a calling card for his winning ways.

“When he pulled into a racetrack, and the announcer would say, ‘Here comes the Wood Chopper from Stuart, Virginia,’ you knew you had a challenger that night,” Ned Jarrett, a fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer, said of Glen Wood in a 2012 NASCAR Hall video of Glen Wood’s career. “Glen Wood, he was the master.”

Kyle Petty, who drove for the Wood Brothers during his career, was a Hall of Fame voter when the group discussed who to induct in the 2012 class. Behind the closed doors, Petty made an impassioned speech for the voters to select Wood for induction.

“I think people forget the breadth of somebody’s career sometimes when it spans as long as his,” Kyle Petty said that day in 2011.

In a statement, Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Board of Directors for Ford Motor Company, said of Wood’s passing:

“This is a difficult day for all of us at Ford Motor Company. Glen Wood was the founding patriarch of the oldest continuously operating NASCAR Cup Series team and we consider Wood Brothers Racing a part of our family, the Ford Family. The Wood Brothers race team, by any measure, has been one of the most successful racing operations in the history of NASCAR. Most importantly for our company, Glen and his family have remained loyal to Ford throughout their 69-year history.

“Glen was an innovator who, along with his family, changed the sport itself.  But, more importantly, he was a true Southern gentleman who was quick with a smile and a handshake and he was a man of his word.   I will cherish the memories of our chats in the NASCAR garage, at their race shop in Mooresville or the racing museum in Stuart.  My most memorable moment with Glen was with he and his family in the #21 pit box watching Trevor Bayne win the 2011 Daytona 500 and the celebration that followed in victory lane.”

Jerry Bonkowski contributed to this report

Kyle Petty Charity Ride route for 2019 announced

Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America
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The 25th anniversary route for the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America has the motorcycle tour making the longest trek in its history.

The charity ride, which raises money for the Victory Junction Gang camp in Randleman, North Carolina, will take place May 3 – 11.

It will travel roughly 3,700 miles from Seattle, Washington, to Key Largo, Florida with eight overnight stops.

The Victory Junction camp is devoted to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. Donations support maintenance programs, building projects and camperships.

The charity ride raised $1.3 million during its 2018 trek from Portland, Maine, to Greensboro, North Carolina.

Since 1995, more than 8,400 riders have logged more than 12 million cumulative motorcycle miles and raised $19.3 million for Victory Junction and other children’s charities.

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NBCSN to broadcast special NASCAR America, Cup Awards at 8 p.m. ET

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NBCSN will have complete coverage of tonight’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards from Las Vegas, as the sport salutes Joey Logano‘s championship.

A special edition NASCAR America will air at 8 p.m. ET. with red carpet coverage. Carolyn Manno hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman. Marty Snider will be on the red carpet for driver interviews. Reigning Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon also will serve as a reporter on the red carpet.

The Awards show airs at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Rutledge Wood and Kelli Stavast host. Along with honoring Logano, the show will feature the announcement of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. an analyst for NBC Sports, his streak of 15 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards will end.

NASCAR America: Examining potential Cup rivalries for 2019

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In the second half of 2018, budding rivalries began to take shape that might bear fruit in 2019 according to the NASCAR America analysts.

Kyle Petty thinks next year’s greatest rivalry will be Joey Logano versus the field. He raised the ire of Martin Truex Jr. with a bump-and-run move to win at Martinsville. The next week, Aric Almirola had harsh words for how he raced at Texas.

“It’s Joey Logano versus everybody,” Petty said. “I say that because … Joey Logano is only 28 years old. He’s in the middle. We talk about Chase Elliott turning 22 or 23. We talk about William Byron turning 21. … We talk about Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex (Jr.) and those guys being 39, 40, 41 … He’s right in the middle, so he’s getting it from both sides.”

“A rivalry that might be brewing that nobody else is thinking about would be Jimmie Johnson versus Chad Knaus,” Parker Kligerman said on Wednesday’s show. “Which one of them goes out and gets a win without each other first.”

Kligerman believes Johnson’s greatest rival may be time, however.

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: 2019 Odds revealed for championship, Daytona 500

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Despite winning the 2018 championship, Joey Logano did not top the Westagate Las Vegas Superbook odds to win the title again in 2019.

Westagate believes the Big 3 from 2018 will pick up where they left off with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch listed as co-favorites at 9-2 odds. Martin Truex Jr., who will become Busch’s teammate next year, is listed at 6-1.

Joey Logano is listed at 10-1 along with his Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney.

The ranking left NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman perplexed.

“This team has been there every other year,” Kyle Petty said. “That’s their third time. They win in their third time. These other guys have only won one time since they’ve been there.”

Logano can take some consolation in the fact that Vegas is giving him a more equal shot at winning the season opening Daytona 500. He is listed at 8-1 along with Keselowski and Harvick.

Anyone looking for an early longshot should note that Austin Dillon, last year’s Daytona 500 winner, has only 40-1 odds of winning a second consecutive 500.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter