With their 20th-place qualifying effort on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Trevor Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team successfully completed a season of walking a qualifying tight rope with no safety net.
Sixteen times this season, Bayne has left pit road on qualifying day with no assurance that he’d take the green flag in the race, as his team’s partial schedule means it doesn’t have the luxury of a guaranteed starting spot.
For the Ford EcoBoost 400 qualifying session, there was even more pressure than usual. The high-profile, championship-deciding Sprint Cup season finale is sponsored by another member of the same Ford racing family that backs the Wood Brothers team.
“I broke a sweat and it isn’t even hot outside,” Bayne said. “It is a tight field here for making the race this weekend it seems like.”
In addition to the field being so competitive, he had to overcome a bobble or two to post a lap at 172.662 miles per hour.
“Coming through [Turns] Three and Four getting up to speed, I slid up a little bit too much, and I let it float up too high and had to get off the gas and drag the brake and couldn’t get a good run to the green [flag],” he said. “I think that was about two-tenths [of a second per lap.]”
Despite these issues, Bayne didn’t seem too worried about how his Ford Fusion will perform on Sunday.
“I think the car might have it in it for the race though,” he said. “We will have to go race trim tomorrow and see what we have.”
“We are in the show though, and we can race from there for sure.”
The Ford EcoBoost 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.