Trevor Bayne and the crew of his No. 21 Good Sam Ford Fusion spent all of Friday’s lone practice session at Talladega Superspeedway with their car in race trim instead of qualifying mode, but they still managed a strong qualifying effort. Bayne, the winner the last time the Sprint Cup circuit raced on a restrictor-plate track, will start Sunday’s plate race, the Aaron’s 499, from the 11th starting position.
But this time around, Bayne didn’t have to spend the day before the race trying to recruit drafting partners. Instead they’re coming to him after his impressive performance in the two-car tandem drafts at Daytona.
“Now we’ve got people asking us if they can be on our radio channel, so it’s totally different,” he said. “We’ve got a good race car.”
Bayne’s Daytona 500-winning Ford Fusion is spending the rest of this season on display at the Daytona 500 Experience, as is the custom for the winner of the sport’s biggest race, but the Good Sam Ford Fusion he’s now driving appears to be just as good as the now-famous No. 21 he drove back in February.
“I was kind of worried about our best car being in the Daytona museum, but this one seems to be pretty fast, too,” Bayne said. “We didn’t do any single-car runs yesterday, so we didn’t know what we would have in qualifying, but I think we’ve got a really good hot rod when it comes to drafting.”
Bayne and his Wood Brothers team already are working on their race strategy, and the key component is finding drafting partners. And for that, they’re looking inside the Ford Racing camp.
“Talking to David Ragan and Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose, hopefully we can find one of them and go to the front again,” Bayne said.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he’s relieved to know that the Good Sam Ford Fusion that the team will race on Sunday has proven to be a strong performer in the two-car tandems that have come to dominate racing on the restrictor-plate tracks, Daytona and Talladega.
“Trevor likes the way the car drives,” Wood said. “He’s happy with the way it performs when he pushing and when he’s being pushed.”
Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 is set to get the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on FOX.