Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team left Las Vegas Motor Speedway pleased with their effort in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400, despite a somewhat disappointing 23rd-place finish.
Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion started the race in 36th place after rain washed out practice and qualifying on Friday and the field was set using last year’s car owner points standings.
While Bayne and the Motorcraft team were fortunate to even be in the starting field given their limited schedule, Sunday’s race turned out to be a bad one to be starting deep in the field.
Although Bayne was able to drive his way to 20th place by Lap 45, two long green-flag runs early in the race saw him and a host of other drivers fall a lap down. The first caution flag flew for debris on the track on Lap 61, and the second wasn’t displayed until Marcos Ambrose spun on Lap 161.
“From the start of the race our car was pretty good,” team co-owner Len Wood said. “We were running good lap times, but not good enough to stay on the lead lap on those long green-flag runs.”
With just five caution periods in the entire race, there were few opportunities to make up lost laps, but Bayne and crew chief Donnie Wingo were able to use pit strategy to put them in position for a lead-lap finish before a lug nut became wedged in the right-rear brake rotor during a pit stop. That led to a vibration and then a pit stop, which Wood figures cost Bayne some spots in the final run-down.
For Bayne and the Woods, continuing to run at speed with a vibration from a then-unknown source wasn’t worth the risk.
“It’s like Trevor said, we didn’t want to lose a race car,” Wood said, adding that he and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew were glad to get their 2013 season back on track after a disappointing Daytona 500.
“All in all, it was a positive run after not having much luck at Daytona,” he said. “Next up is Texas.” Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will skip the next three Sprint Cup races and return on April 13 for the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.