Bayne turned a lap at 187.363 miles per hour to take the 25th starting spot and once again be the best of the “go-or-go-home” drivers who had to qualify on speed.
Dating back to last year, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team has been the top qualifier among the go-or-go-homers in 10 of the 11 races it has been in that position.
As is often the case, Bayne and the team saw the potential for a faster lap but had to balance the desire to cut a fast lap with the more important goal of making sure they were in the starting field on Sunday.
“It was OK,” Bayne said of his qualifying run. “We’re in the show, I guess, which is the thing we’ve got to focus on in qualifying. “It wasn’t exactly the run I wanted. I wanted to get through the bumps in [Turns] One and Two a little bit better, and we just hit the track and it took off up through there.”
Still his qualifying lap was an improvement over his best lap in practice, which produced a speed of 185.166 mph.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said crew chief Donnie Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had good ideas after practice about what they needed to do to pick up speed, but decided to save those changes for the race set-up.
“We were reluctant to make the changes,” Wood said. “We felt like we had a good cushion on the people we had to beat, so we stuck with our original plan. “It just didn’t make sense to gamble when we were in position to be in the show, and we feel really good about our set-up for Sunday.”
Wood’s brother and team co-owner Len Wood was absent on Friday, still recuperating from back problems that caused him to miss the Daytona 500, but he’s expected to be back at the track for the Kobalt Tools 400.
The 400 is set to get the green flag on Sunday just after noon (3 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.