One might not expect a 28th-place qualifying at Michigan International Speedway to bring smiles to the faces of the members of the team that is tied for the most Sprint Cup wins there or to the driver who leads all active racers in victories there, but that was exactly the case Friday afternoon.
Bill Elliott in the Wood Brothers No.21 FordParts.com Ford Fusion ran a lap at 187.251 miles per hour, considerably faster than his best practice run of 185.763 mph, and he did it with the weather working against him. Because of a mid-day rainstorm, Elliott wound up making his qualifying run under a broiling sun, while many before him ran under the cooler temperatures that prevailed immediately after the rain. Generally, the cooler the air, the faster a car runs. But Elliott was making good time, even in the heat.
Among the go-or-go-home drivers who went out at the end of the qualifying session during the hottest time of the day, Elliott was at the top of the class. “It feels good,” Elliott said. “The guys worked hard and put a good car under me. It is always a task to get through these qualifying days, especially with where we are in points.” Because Elliott and the Woods are running a limited schedule, they’re not among the top 35 teams in car owner points; a group that is guaranteed a starting spot for races no matter how fast or slow they are in qualifying.
Now Elliott and the Woods are turning their attention to preparing a car that will be competitive in Sunday’s 400-miler. “We will see what Sunday brings,” Elliott said. “Qualifying is one thing, but we will go through tomorrow and figure out where we stack up for Sunday. “I am definitely looking forward to the race though.”
Sunday’s Heluva Good Sour Cream Dip 400 is set to get the green flag at 1 p.m. with TV coverage on TNT. Fans watching at the track and on TV should remember to watch for a car carrying the blue-and-white FordParts.com colors. The famed No. 21 normally carries a red-and-white Motorcraft/Quick Lane paint scheme, but this week the team is helping raise awareness of FordParts.com, which allows repair shops, body shops, fleets, and do-it-yourselfers to shop online 24/7/365 days a year for Genuine Ford and Motorcraft parts from the dealer of their choice.