Trevor Bayne and his Donnie Wingo-led crew finally got a finish to match their intermediate-track performance as Bayne drove the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion to a ninth-place finish in the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Bayne started 25th and remained in the top 20 for most of the race before making a late-race charge into the top 10.
With 30 laps to go, Bayne was up to 15th, and he lined up 13th for a restart with 18 laps remaining. With Bayne grabbing positions on every restart, each yellow flag provided another opportunity to take another step toward the front.
A caution for a Kurt Busch spin with 12 laps to go saw him 11th for the restart, and he picked up two more positions before the checkered flag fell.
“A top 10 feels like a win to us, especially with how hard we had to fight all day,” Bayne said. “We got the lucky dog one time, but we stayed on the lead lap for the majority of every run except for one.
“I got by the 31 [Jeff Burton] in order to be the lucky dog, and the caution came out right when we needed it and we got our lap back.
“We fought hard from there and dialed the car in.”
Bayne said a late-evening sun, plus some smart decisions by his crew made all the difference at the end of the 400.
“The sun coming out really helped us. It freed up the car some and Donnie [Wingo] and Kyle McArver my engineer, worked hard to figure that out, but this is what we needed. We needed some momentum.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the strong run to the checkered flag was the product of a total team effort.
“Donnie made a great call for two tires on the last pit stop to give us track position,” Wood said. “We had a good day in the pits. The Roush Yates FR9 engine was strong, and Trevor did a great job behind the wheel, especially on restarts. He gained spots on every restart.”
Wood said the strong run is a good sign for the future, as the Wood Brothers’ limited schedule is centered around intermediate-length tracks like Las Vegas.
“It’s good to know that our car will be competitive on the mile-and-a-half tracks,” he said. “We ran this same car at Charlotte and Texas last fall and had good runs going, but we didn’t get to finish off those races.”
Bayne, Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew return to the track next month for the Samsung Mobile 500 on April 14 at Texas Motor Speedway.