Since the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team runs just a partial Sprint Cup schedule, it isn’t guaranteed a starting spot. One mistake on Bayne’s part or a mechanical malfunction or mistake by the crew and the team does not race that week.
“That is always something that crosses my mind right before we go out,” Bayne said. “We aren’t even guaranteed to be racing when we go out.”
Still, he and the Wood Brothers team were able to put their worries aside and pick up significant speed from practice to qualifying.
In Friday’s practice round, Bayne’s best lap of 187.052 miles per hour was 15th fastest on the speed chart. Then he went out and ran more than two and a half miles per hour faster in qualifying to take the seventh starting spot with a lap at 189.607 mph. He was second fastest of the Ford contingent and fastest among the go-or-go-home drivers who had to rely on their qualifying speeds to make the race.
Bayne gave his Donnie Wingo-led crew credit for going in the right direction with the chassis adjustments for qualifying. Practice on Saturday will give them a chance to fine-tune the car even more.
“We over-adjusted from practice but it went faster, so they went the right way with it which is a really good problem to have,” he said. “At least we know what we needed now.”
The AAA Texas 500 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.