Getting the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion up to speed at Michigan International Speedway hasn’t been much of a problem for Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers in recent races. Securing a fitting finish has been another matter altogether.
In both Sprint Cup races at Michigan in 2012, Bayne qualified in the top seven only to have equipment issues take away opportunities for strong finishes. An engine failure in the first race and a flat tire in the second, hindered any chance of showcasing the teams full potential.
Back in June of this year at the home track for Ford Motor Company, Bayne was poised to be a big part of a Ford celebration of its 1,000th NASCAR victory before aerodynamic damage from an incident on the track left him with a 15th-place finish behind the winning Ford Fusion driven by Greg Biffle.
The team will use the same Ford Fusion it ran at MIS on Father’s Day, and it will be back in its familiar red-and-white paint scheme instead of the black-and-white colors used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to honor Henry Ford’s 150th birthday. Veteran crew chief Donnie Wingo said he and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew are determined to do their part to help Bayne steer Chassis No. 745 to a strong finish in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
“We’ve had some of our better runs at Michigan, but we just haven’t been able to finish them off,” Wingo said. “The car’s been good. It just needed a little bit here and there, which we should be able to work on in practice.”
Among the goals Wingo has for the weekend is a strong qualifying effort, for several reasons. Foremost, there’s the matter of making the starting field, as the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team must make the race based on its qualifying speed. Then there are the advantages that come with starting up front, namely a beneficial pit stall and the edge that comes with having track position from the drop of the green flag.
“We’re going to work hard on qualifying,” Wingo said. “I expect we’re going to have a track-position race.”
That means race strategies will focus on keeping drivers as close to the front of the field as possible, especially as the laps wind down.
“You’re not going to take four tires every time you make a pit stop,” Wingo said. “You’ll see lots of two-tire stops and some no-tire stops. It just depends on how much fuel you need at that point.”
Qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. Eastern, and the race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.