When Trevor Bayne takes the green flag on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, it will mark his 50t career Sprint Cup race, and all of them have come in the No. 21 Ford Fusion fielded by the famed Wood Brothers race team.
“It seems like it’s gone by really fast, but it’s taken us five years to do it,” Bayne said.
The highlight of those 50 for Bayne and the entire Motorcraft/Quick Lane team would undoubtedly be start No. 2, when he scored the team’s fifth Daytona 500 victory.
“That’s definitely the best of them,” Bayne said. “And if I get to 400 starts, that will still be the best.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said Bayne, now 23, has been a good fit for his family-owned team since making his Cup debut and his first run in the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion in the fall of 2010 at Texas Motor Speedway, where he finished a strong 17th.
“We’ve had a lot of good runs with Trevor,” Wood said. “It’s worked out well for both of us, especially with us running a part-time schedule and him having a full-time Nationwide Series ride with Roush Fenway Racing.”
Making the milestone start at Talladega suits Bayne just fine, even though he hasn’t had the success there that he’s had at other tracks. His best run there came in the spring of 2012, when he posted his 2nd top ten finish in just four races for that season, with an 8th place finish.
“Talladega hasn’t always been the best for me,” Bayne said. “I’m looking to redeem myself this weekend.”
It helps that the Ford Fusion he’ll run was tested at Talladega in January and showed good speed.
One of the biggest challenges this weekend is the new “knockout” style qualifying that will be used at a restrictor-plate track for the first time in the Sprint Cup Series.
“That will be a little nerve-wracking,” Bayne said, adding that, unlike the race, the most important thing is to be in a fast group but not necessarily at the front of the field, where he hopes to be when the checkered flag falls on Sunday afternoon.
Qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 is set for Saturday at 1:10 p.m. eastern, and the race should get the green flag just after 1:00 p.m eastern.
The qualifying session and the race will be broadcast live on FOX.