Trevor Bayne and the crew of his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion struggled with an ill-handling car through the early portions of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Long green-flag runs hampered the crew in its attempts to diagnose the problem, which also caused tire issues that forced unscheduled pit stops that led to lost laps.
Finally, a late caution period allowed the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew time to carefully inspect the car, and the problem was located.
“A spring rubber had fallen out of the right-rear spring,” team co-owner Len Wood. “They replaced it, and it made a different car out of it.”
Spring rubbers are pieces of rubber inserted into the coils of a spring to change its affect on the car’s handling. They’re also useful during races because they can be quickly inserted or removed, thus providing a significant chassis adjustment.
With the spring rubber back in place, Bayne was able to run competitive laps and race with those around him, but by that time he had lost four laps to the leaders and wound up finishing 29th.
Wood said the chassis adjustments the crew made during the race didn’t produce the expected results because the missing spring rubber so adversely affected the chassis set-up of the No. 21 Ford Fusion. “It would take three times the usual adjustment,” he said.
Wood and the rest of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had praise for Bayne and his handling of the challenges of the afternoon, especially the issues with the tires, which wore excessively due to the missing spring rubber.
“He caught it each time and did a nice job of getting the car to pit road,” Wood said, explaining that a blown tire likely would have meant a wrecked car especially at a high-speed track like Texas Motor Speedway.
Now Wood and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team turn their attention to the season-ending Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.
“We tested there last week, and we’ve got a good plan and a different car for the Ford 400,” Wood said. “We’ll see what happens.”