Drivers qualifying later in the session had the advantage of a cooler – and faster – track, but Bayne, who was the sixth driver to make his run against the clock, still will start 22nd in Saturday night’s NRA 500.
“We went out so early, but that was way faster than anything we did in practice,” Bayne said. “It’s kind of at our disadvantage to go out that early, but I think we’ll be OK.”
Bayne’s qualifying speed of 192.754 miles per hour greatly exceeded his best lap in practice, at 188.278 mph, and that improvement was in spite of a less-than-perfect qualifying run.
“We were a little free right there in [Turns] Three and Four to be able to get back to the gas and a little bit tight in One and Two,” he said.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said the qualifying effort didn’t tell the whole story from Friday. He was more interested in the speed the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion showed in the first practice session, when Bayne and the Wood Brothers crew focused on dialing in their chassis set-up for the race.
“Our times stayed good on the long runs,” he said. “I think we’ll be OK.”
The NRA 500 is set to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday with TV coverage on FOX.