Changing track conditions at Texas Motor Speedway played a little Halloween evening trick on Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team but the team still came away with the 25th starting position for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Bayne had the No. 21 Ford Fusion high on the leader board throughout the opening practice round at Texas on Friday, ending the session ninth fastest. Then in qualifying, the track got looser, when normally it gets tighter, throwing the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team and several others a condition they didn’t expect.
“It was super fast in the first practice, and we were top of the board a little while and ended up top-10,” Bayne said. “I thought for sure we would make it to the last round [of knockout qualifying] like the spring.
“It was just too loose. It freed up too much with the sun going down. The jump it made before Cup qualifying was more than we predicted.”
Bayne got extremely loose in Turns One and Two on his first qualifying lap, then ran faster on his second attempt, which is unusual given the speed advantage that comes with running new tires on the first lap.
“I finished my [first] lap – probably should have shut down and saved my tires – but I finished that lap, and we picked up on our second run which you should never have at Texas,” he said.
Despite the disadvantage of running on tires with one lap already on them, he came within two thousandths of a second per lap of advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying. And with new tires generally worth three tenths of a second per lap, Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were left to wonder “what if?”
What’s not in doubt is the speed of the car, and the prospects for a strong run in the 500.
“I think we have a good Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford for Sunday,” Bayne said.
The race is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.