It’s fitting that Trevor Bayne’s first Atlanta Motor Speedway start as a Sprint Cup driver will come in a No. 21 Ford Fusion painted with new colors – the red and blue of Good Sam and Camping World on the top and sides, and the yellow stripe of a rookie on the rear bumper.
Bayne has raced at AMS in the Nationwide Series, but his start in Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 is his first at the 1.54-mile quad-oval track in the more powerful Sprint Cup cars.
Bayne spent Friday’s practice session getting up to speed in his Wood Brothers Ford Fusion, he then went out in qualifying and ran a lap at 182.886 miles per hour to secure the 32nd starting position.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said Bayne caught a bad break when the sun came out just as he began his run against the clock, while his fellow go-or-go-home drivers got to run on a shaded, and therefore, substantially faster surface.
“The sun popped out in turns three and four, so Trevor had to be really careful,” Wood said.
Bayne shouldered most of the blame for his disappointing run on a track he considers his favorite.
“I wasn’t very good on entry [to the turns],” he said. “I couldn’t drive it in as hard as I wanted to, and I couldn’t see.
“I know it’s a bad excuse, but I couldn’t see in turn one at all with the sun in my face. Everybody else is dealing with it too, but I just missed my marks down there on both laps.”
Nonetheless, Wood said he was pleased with the way his young driver adapted to driving Sprint Cup cars on Atlanta’s worn, but fast asphalt.
“The Cup car is a lot different that what he’s driven in Nationwide,” Wood said. “It has a lot more horsepower. It’s a different deal because you’re running so much faster into the corners.”
“Trevor caught on pretty quickly. We’ll have two practice sessions on Saturday to work on the race set-up. We’ll be fine.”
The AdvoCare 500 is set to get the green flag on Sunday just after 7:30 p.m.