Trevor Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion picked up the pace significantly from practice and will start 17th in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bayne turned a qualifying lap at 175.507 miles per hour, which was more than two miles per hour faster than his best lap in practice of 173.321 mph.
“That wasn’t a bad lap at all,” Bayne said of his best qualifying run since a 15th at Talladega Superspeedway in May. “We just got tight in the center [of the corners] there, and I wondered if I carried a little too much speed in trying not to use any brakes, so the second lap I tried to use more brake and we slowed down a lot”.
“Overall that is a really good pickup for my guys, and they did a really good job making adjustments from practice to this. I think most people were picking up like two-tenths [of a second per lap], and we picked up about five.”
Bayne said his qualifying run gives him renewed optimism heading into Sunday’s finale of the Ford Championship Weekend.
“That is a good run, and we can at least see the front from there and hopefully make it happen,” he said.
Among the 14 Ford Fusions in the starting field for the Sprint Cup season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 is the No. 32 driven by a former Wood Brothers’ driver Ken Schrader, who is making his final Sprint Cup start.
Schrader, who drove the No. 21 Ford in 2006 and 2007, started his Sprint Cup career back in 1984 in a Ford fielded by Elmo Langley, and 29 years, 762 races and four wins later he’ll end it in another Ford, the Fusion owned by Frankie Stoddard, who has been working on Fords and fielding them for most of his NASCAR career.
Wood said Schrader, one of more than 70 drivers to take the wheel of the No. 21, earned his place in the history of the family race team.
“We’ve known Ken since he raced for Elmo Langley and then Junie Donlavey,” Wood said. “He came to drive for us at a time we were kind of in a transition phase and needed a veteran driver. He was a big help to us.”
Schrader said he has the utmost respect for the Woods.
“Before I ever drove for them they were at the top of my list, and they still are today,” he said.
Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. eastern time with TV coverage on ESPN.