“It’s frustrating, but we made it that far,” Bayne said. “We made it to the last 20 laps, and that’s kind of your goal at Daytona – to be around at the end for a chance to win.”
Sunday’s 500 wound up being much like the entire Speedweeks for Bayne and the Wood Brothers’ team.
Just as they had to bounce back from a disappointing qualifying effort and race their way into the Great American Race with a strong run in last Thursday’s Gatorade Duel qualifying race, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team had to overcome a problem on an early-race pit stop to be in the lead draft near the end. The pit stop issue led to the team going a lap down mid-race, but crew chief Donnie Wingo opted to take the wave-around, and the caution flags fell in the team’s favor, allowing Bayne to return the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion to the lead lap.
“We kept recovering tonight,” said Bayne, who led two laps in the 500.
“We worked our way into the top 10 a few times and led some laps, but it’s not the finish we were hoping for.”
The crash that ended the race for Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team began as Bayne was running in the middle of a three-wide pack with less than 20 laps remaining.
“I thought we were really strong in the middle all night with our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, and we’d work our way from the back to the front time and time again,” he explained. “There at the end we were running the middle with [Jeff Gordon] and [Denny Hamlin] and felt really strong, and all of a sudden [Landon Cassill] shoved it four-wide down into Turn One and really squeezed everybody.”
Bayne held on through that incident but lost control about a lap later.
“Our car was really free up off the corner,” he said. “We’ve seen that a lot with these cars.
“There were a few times I got loose with cars around me, and I saw other people doing it, but it finally stepped out too far. I tried to save it, but when it finally caught it hooked right into the wall like you see sometimes at mile-and-a-halves [tracks].”
“You don’t normally expect that at Daytona by yourself, but I hate it for our team.”
Even so, team co-owner Eddie Wood said that despite the team’s late-race misfortune, he’s not too disappointed.
“Any time you get to race in the Daytona 500, you’re happy to be a part of it,” he said. “And if you can make it to the last 20 or 25 laps and be in the top10 or 15 you know you have a shot.”
“The biggest thing for us was that we had a fast car. That means a lot.”
Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to the Sprint Cup Series in two weeks for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.