Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew came to Michigan International Speedway determined to redeem themselves following a disappointing run at that track in June, where engine troubles ended their day prematurely.
The team is off to a fast start as Bayne qualified sixth for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400. His speed of 197.780 miles per hour represented a dramatic improvement over Friday’s practice session where he was 19th fastest with a best lap of 194.605 mph.
“That’s one spot better than we qualified last time, so I’m pretty pumped about it,” Bayne said, adding that it’s a rush to be running as fast as he was, but still pressing down on the accelerator to gain more speed.
Bayne gave much of the credit for his improvement from practice to Donnie Wingo and crew.
“I am proud of these guys,” he said. “We were really loose in practice but they got it tightened back up for me so I could get on the gas on exit. That was the biggest thing for me, being able to get wide open and stay in it instead of having to breathe it coming up to the wall.”
The payoff to a strong qualifying run comes in a good pit stall selection, which leads to better track position during the race on Sunday.
“That’s the good part of it,” Bayne said.
Bayne is also upbeat about his prospects for Saturday’s practice session and Sunday’s race, as he and the team now can focus on running the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion in race trim rather than a qualifying set-up. The July 30th Goodyear tire test should prove to be a huge help, as they were able to work on race runs and make some needed handling improvements, hoping to make their Ford Fusion even faster than the previous Michigan race.
“Everything went good in the test,” Bayne said. “It does seem like the track is a little more free than it was in June. “It’s all good. I’m excited.”
The Pure Michigan 400 is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.