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Can Wood Brothers survive without investor? In this year of economic hardship and disappearing sponsors, #21-Wood Brothers is hunkering down. The team, which has won just one race in the past 15 seasons, will run just a third of the 2009 season. "Our plan is, unless something substantial comes, here's our 12 and that's what we're going to do," team co-owner Len Wood said. The team would rather run just 12 races with Bill Elliott than try to piece together a season by scrounging sponsorships on a race-by-race basis, he said. "If someone comes in and says `I'll give you $100,000 to run this race,' that's not going to make money," Wood said.
The team has also rejected the idea of looking for outside investors with deep pockets. That just brings interference, Wood said. "When it comes to making a decision - do we need to buy this - we don't have to go through a board of directors or anything like that," he said. "It's us. We don't have to answer to anybody." Instead, the Ford team is tightening its belt and finding ways to do more with less. "We have smaller groups than we had before," Wood said. "I need a guy who can jack the car and be a mechanic. I need a guy who can be a fabricator and can also change tires. Instead of two people to do one job I need one guy to do two."
The team ran an entry in NASCAR's truck series last year but that's on the shelf in 2009. This season will only feature Elliott in the #21 with backing by Motorcraft. The advantage of using a veteran such as Elliott is being able to fall back on the provisional entry he is entitled to as a past NASCAR champion in order to qualify for a race. Elliott had to use only one champion's provisional last year. This year using a provisional might be more difficult because other past champions will try to qualify for races and the one available provisional per race goes to the most recent champion who needs it. "People try to say that's why we got him," Wood said of Elliott and his provisional. "It probably started that way, but Bill Elliott is different. He can step up and get that car in if he needs to. We didn't have very good cars the first of last year but (changes made) turned our program around. We're just trying to get it back on track and get our performance back." But soon that first race will come when Wood Brothers doesn't make the trip. And, Wood said, "I'll be sitting there watching just like a fan at home, but I won't be liking it." Alabama Live
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