Bayne improved on his top practice speed of 197.466 miles per hour when he took his turn at qualifying. Once he posted a speed of 198.429 mph on his first lap, assuring him of a starting spot, he coasted back to the garage, saving his car for when he needs it most – after the green flag drops on Sunday.
“We only ran one lap because we didn’t want to get the engine too hot,” team co-owner Len Wood said. “We were being careful because we knew we were in the race at that point.”
With 44 drivers entered for 43 starting spots, Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew had to outrun only one in qualifying to be assured of a starting spot. With the No. 44 car running just 184.393 mph before Bayne made his qualifying run, the pressure was off, as long as there were no issues on the qualifying lap.
“We know we have a good car for Sunday, so we wanted to be conservative,” Wood said.
Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew were thinking race strategy even as they prepared for Friday’s qualifying session. They spent a significant portion of Friday’s practice session scuffing tires for Sunday’s race, as scuffed tires are an advantage on relatively new, fast asphalt like that at Michigan.
Wood also pointed out that the Wood Brothers Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, which will make its 86th career start at Michigan on Sunday, should be able to capitalize on the track time and experience gained in a recent test session at the home track of the team’s long-time backer, Ford Motor Company.
“We spent the whole test working on race set-ups,” he said, adding that the team is looking for a strong run from the 2013 Ford Fusion it brought to Michigan, a chassis that will be run for the first time this season. “With these new Gen-6 cars, the speeds are up, and the Michigan asphalt is starting to get a little abrasive, so it ought to be a good race.”
The Quicken Loans 400 is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on TNT.