Trevor Bayne’s best lap of the day on Saturday was the one that counted, as he turned a lap at 173.160 miles per hour to lock in the 20th starting position for Sunday’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Once again, Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion were the best of the go-or-go-home teams that have to make the race on their qualifying times because their car owners are outside the top 35 in the car owner points.
Of the nine races this season that the Wood Brothers’ Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew has had to qualify on speed, they were the fastest of the go-or-go homers eight times, including one start by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Charlotte. Bayne has been the best of the group for his past seven Sprint Cup qualifying sessions.
Bayne was 24th in the first practice session, held on Saturday morning after rains washed out Friday’s scheduled session, with a best lap of 170.379 mph.
“I’m really happy with the adjustments we made,” he said. “I caught a little cloud, so that was good for us, but I think we’re going race a lot better than we qualify.”
Bayne’s fellow Ford driver Carl Edwards, the points leader by three over Tony Stewart heading into the final race of 2011, will start from the pole.
Bayne said he’s proud to have been a big part of a strong performance by the Blue Oval contingent this season, a group that has won the sport’s biggest race, the Daytona 500, a Nationwide Series championship and is on the brink of a Cup title as well.
The Wood Brothers have played a starring role in Ford’s excellent season, delivering the 500 victory and making every race they entered while running a limited, 17-race schedule and being without guaranteed starting spots for much of the season.
“I’m excited about this car so far and just excited to be a part of this all year long,” Bayne said.
“Hopefully, I’ll be back in the 21 next year. We’ll see what happens, but I’ve just really, really enjoyed it so far.
“I remember a year ago when I was sitting on the pit box watching these guys, and Bill Elliott was driving the car. It’s been a crazy year, but it’s been a really memorable one, and I’m just excited to have been a part of it.”
The Ford 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.