Bayne’s victory in Sunday’s Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway was the 200th for Ford in that series, and the 999th overall major NASCAR victory for the Blue Oval racers.
A win by any of the Ford contingent this weekend at Michigan International Speedway would push that number to an even 1,000, and that’s a goal that Donnie Wingo, crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, has for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.
“Milestones like that are important for everyone on the Ford team,” Wingo said, adding that he wouldn’t be too disappointed if Bayne or another Ford driver were to reach the 1,000-win mark in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Michigan. “It’s something we’re all striving for, but we all want the Fords to run well and win races, even if we’re not in a particular race.”
Team co-owner Eddie Wood feels upbeat about his team’s chances this weekend, especially given the Wood Brothers’ and Bayne’s good fortune in previous milestone victories by Ford.
In the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 at Atlanta in the spring of 1993, Morgan Shepherd drove the No. 21 Thunderbird to Ford’s 400th victory in the series now known as Sprint Cup. In 2011, Bayne delivered Ford’s 600th Cup win with a strong surge at the finish of the Daytona 500.
“For whatever reason, we’ve been fortunate to score some milestone victories for Ford,” Wood said. “And we’re very proud of it.”
The Woods also have a history of success at Michigan, where their 11 Cup victories are just one behind fellow Ford owner Jack Roush, the all-time leader.
For this weekend’s race, Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew have prepared Chassis No. 745, which hasn’t been raced since 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Since then the car has been completely overhauled and converted to a Generation-6 racer, and Wingo is pleased with the final result.
“We’ve put a lot of work into it,” he said, adding that the results of a recent wind-tunnel test indicate the car will be a fast one.
The team will need it on the newly repaved Michigan oval, where speeds are expected to be high, even with a winter’s worth of aging on the track’s asphalt.
That aging should make for a good race, according to the veteran crew chief.
“I think the groove will get even wider than it was last year,” he said.
He anticipates his biggest challenge on the pit box will be developing a strategy that will give Bayne track position in the closing laps.
“You won’t be taking four tires on every stop,” he said. “The key is going to be doing what you have to do to have track position at the end of the race.”
The No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will carry a special decal this weekend in memory of Cecil Wilson, who passed last week at age 77 after a battle with cancer.
He was the team’s longest-serving non-family member, having worked for the team since the late 1960′s, when Cale Yarborough drove the No. 21 Mercury Cyclone.
“Cecil was there when I started, and he was with us as long as his health allowed. He will be missed.” Eddie Wood said.
Qualifying for the Quicken Loans 400 is set for Friday at 3:35 p.m., and the race is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on TNT.