In Sprint Cup Series qualifying, mere fractions of a second can make the difference in a good qualifying run and a great one. On Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Trevor Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had to settle for a good one.
Bayne and his No. 21 Ford Fusion came within two hundredths of a second of advancing to the second round of knock-out qualifying for the Ford EcoBoost 400, but instead wound up with the 26th starting position for Sunday’s grand finale of the Ford Championship Weekend.
Bayne’s best lap in qualifying was at 178.136 miles per hour, just a fraction of second slower than the 178.247 mph that it would have taken to advance to the second qualifying round. His qualifying speed was considerably faster than his best lap in practice of 175.188 miles per hour, but his No. 21 Ford Fusion was a little to loose on his qualifying run.
“Trevor didn’t get the lap he wanted,” team co-owner Len Wood said. “Coming off the corners he had to crack the throttle.”
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team now turns its focus to Saturday’s two practice sessions, and unlike earlier race weekends this season, they’ll have an extra set of tires to use in fine-tuning the handling of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. It’s a luxury they often don’t have, but are enjoying this week because with just 43 teams entered for 43 starting spots, they didn’t have to put as much emphasis on qualifying, something that’s tremendously important for a team running a limited schedule and not guaranteed a starting spot for races.
“We’ll work on race trim in the two practices,” Wood said. “They’re in the daytime, and the race ends at night, so there’s some guesswork involved, but we will be starting the race in the sun.”
Having a good run on Sunday is important for Wood and the rest of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team as the Ford EcoBoost 400 marks the end of the 2014 season.
“It’s bittersweet to see a season come to an end,” Wood said. “But that also means that it’s that much closer to the Daytona 500, and everyone knows how much that race means to our family and to our team.”
The Ford EcoBoost 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.