Trevor Bayne and the crew of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion had a case of the long-green-flag-run blues early in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But as the sun went down and the lap count went up, the No. 21 Ford Fusion picked up speed and Bayne ended up driving his way back into the top half of the field and scoring a 20th-place finish.
It was the team’s third top-20 finish in five starts this season.
Bayne started 14th, and in the early going found his car to be tight in the center of the turns. Crew chief Donnie Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew made adjustments on pit stops, but it took three stops before the car began to respond and turn quick laps with Bayne running the high groove. The problem was the laps lost during the long green-flags runs early in the race.
“When your car is right, long green-flag runs are your friend,” team owner Eddie Wood said. “When it’s not, they’re not what you want.”
“Once we got the car freed up, it was running speeds comparable to the top-five cars.”
Wood had praise for his over-the-wall pit crew, which consistently cranked out stops in the 12- to 13-second range even while making chassis adjustments on every stop.
“That’s a strong point for us now,” he said.
The timing of the race’s eight caution flags didn’t work out in the team’s favor as most caution periods were followed by long green-flag runs that prevented them from making up lost laps by taking the wave-around during caution periods.
“We tried it three times, but it only paid off once. We gained spots on a few cars at the end because they short-pitted and the caution flag caught them,” Wood said.
Still, he was pleased with the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team’s mid-race recovery.
“We finished 20th, but it was a strong hard fought 20th,” he said.
Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to the Sprint Cup Series on June 13-15 for the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.