The Wood Brothers and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew got their first taste of NASCAR’s new “knockout” qualifying procedure on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and it was quite an eye-opener.
“It’s very intense,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “You can just sense the pressure in the garage. I’ve got a lot of respect for this procedure and the people who have to do it.”
His own Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had to put forth a gallant effort to make the starting field for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400. After struggling to find speed in practice, the team managed to get Trevor Bayne on the track for three qualifying runs in the opening 25-minute session of knockout qualifying. That meant the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had to get the engine of the No. 21 Ford Fusion cooled down two different times, and in a hurry. Teams tape off the radiator for qualifying to improve the car’s aerodynamics, but the lack of air to the radiator quickly overheats the engine.
“That’ all you can ask for,” Wood said of the performance by crew chief Donnie Wingo and his crew.
As it was, Bayne’s second attempt was his quickest lap. His speed of 188.429 was just 34th fastest, but it got him inside the top 36 and thereby in the starting field for Sunday’s 400-miler.
“It wasn’t very pretty, but it got us in the show,” Wood said. “It’s a relief. The field is really close.”
With one major hurdle behind them, Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew now turn their attention to tuning their No. 21 Ford Fusion for Sunday’s race on a fast, bumpy Vegas track.
Two practice sessions are scheduled for Saturday. The Kobalt Tools 400 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.