But lately the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion has been plenty fast, and driver Trevor Bayne and his Donnie Wingo-led crew are more concerned with where they qualify than if they qualify.
On Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, Bayne was eighth fastest in practice with a best speed of 192.041 miles per hour, then bettered his speed in qualifying, bumping his speed up to 192.589 mph.
But others picked up as well and Bayne ended up with a 13th starting position after a qualifying session that saw Ford Fusion drivers take six of the top 13 starting spots including the top three.
Bayne said he was a bit frustrated with his run, even though it was by far the best of the go-or-go-home drivers who had to make the race on their qualifying times.
“I wish I would have gotten more out of that run,” he said. “I thought for sure I had a top-five run going, but the track gained so much grip through [Turns] One and Two everybody picked up a lot, and we only picked up a little bit. “We went faster than practice, but it just wasn’t fast enough. I’m frustrated with that a little bit… but I thought for sure it would be top five. “Still, that’s all right.”
Indeed it was, as it was his third straight starting spot of 13th or better, including a 10th at Charlotte Motor Speedway and a fourth-place at Talladega Superspeedway.
The AAA Texas 500 is set to get the green flag on Sunday just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on ESPN.