Bayne Qualifies 25th For the Coke Zero 400 At Daytona

Sm_DY50127Trevor Bayne and his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will line up for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway from the 25th starting position. Bayne turned a lap at 197.994 miles per hour in the opening round of Friday’s knock-out qualifying session but did not advance to the final two rounds, which wound up being rained out.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that the key to a fast lap in knock-out qualifying on a restrictor-plate track like Daytona is to catch a pack of cars just ahead of  you. But that perfect timing is very difficult to achieve.

“Everybody has a plan, and everybody’s trying to outguess each other,” he said. “You need to catch a group of cars with a couple of them two wide, but as time was running out in the first session people had to go and the speeds weren’t what everyone expected.”

Sm_DY41851Indeed, the pole speed turned by the No. 38 Ford Fusion of David Gilliland, 199.322 mph, was more than a mile per hour slower than Bayne’s best lap in Friday’s practice session. He posted the 13th fastest lap on Friday with a speed of 200.553 mph.

Rain has been one of the bigger stories at Daytona this week as both Sprint Cup qualifying and one practice session were impacted by the showers that tend to pop up often at the track just off the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Wood said he’s not too concerned as the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion has shown plenty of speed when it was on the track in race trim.

“We feel really good about the race,” he said.

The Coke Zero 400 is set to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on TNT.

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Woods Recall Summertime Success At Daytona

P-WB1-469When most NASCAR fans think of the Wood Brothers and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team and racing at Daytona International Speedway, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the team’s five victories in the Daytona 500.

But the Woods actually have had more success in the summertime, winning 10 races on the July 4th weekend, making team founder Glen Wood the all-time leader in car owner victories in points-paying Cup races at Daytona, with a total of 15.

Many times, the Woods rolled their Fords into Daytona’s Victory Lane on the strength of dominating performances while other times luck played a hand. Sometimes a July win made up for the disappointment of a lost opportunity to win the Great American Race in February. The 1983 Firecracker 400 was one of those races. Buddy Baker, a current nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was driving the No. 21 Ford, which was the team’s first of the then-new aerodynamically sleek Thunderbirds that came to rule the superspeedways for most of the 1980′s.

Baker had driven that same car in the ’83 Daytona 500. He led 35 laps and was poised to win, only to lose the lead to eventual winner Cale Yarborough on the last lap of the race and eventually finishing third behind Bill Elliott.

Then in July, it was Terry Labonte that dominated the race only to run out of gas coming to the white flag. Baker assumed the lead, and his No. 21 Ford also ran dry but not before he crossed the finish line to claim his 19th career Cup victory, which wound up being the final triumph of his career.

For team co-owner Eddie Wood, that ’83 win was special for several reasons.

“For one, it was the first race we won for Ford in the new model Thunderbird,” Wood said.

And it seemed overdue to the Woods, who built the car on a new Banjo Matthews chassis and unloaded it with lots of speed when they first arrived at Daytona that February.

“That car led the 125 miler, and we lost it to Dale Earnhardt, who at that time was driving a Thunderbird.” Wood said. “And in the Busch Clash it was fast but got wrecked on the last lap. To finally win one here in Daytona with it was really special.”

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team returns to Daytona this week to try for its 16th win, and it’ll be the team’s most recent Daytona winner, 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, at the wheel of the No. 21 Ford Fusion.

Qualifying for the 56th annual Coke Zero 400 is set for Friday at 5:10 p.m, and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on TNT.

Bayne, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Notch Another Top-20

_MI44070A day after struggling in the two final practice sessions at Michigan International Speedway, Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew found the speed needed in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 to record the team’s fourth top-20 finish in its past five races.

Bayne was only 30th fastest in Happy Hour practice, but once the green flag dropped on Sunday, his No. 21 Ford Fusion, decked out in the blue colors of Quick Lane, was able to move from the 23rd starting spot into the top 20 and remain there for much of the race before coming home 19th.

“It was OK, but it’s not what we want,” Bayne said. “But we were better than I thought we’d be after practice.”

Team co-owner Len Wood said the Donnie Wingo-led crew continued to make changes to the chassis throughout the race as they dealt with a loose-handling condition.

“We struggled a little in the middle of the race, but got it back toward the end,” he said.

The 400-mile run boiled down to a fuel-mileage/strategy race at the end, and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team elected to go with fuel only on its final stop. The over-the-wall crew fueled the car in 3.3 seconds. putting in just enough gasoline to make it to the checkered flag.

That strategy gave Bayne some track position and also allowed him to enjoy the aerodynamic advantages of clean air. The down side was that the light fuel load made Bayne’s driving job more difficult, but he still prevailed over Ford teammate Greg Biffle in a spirited sprint to the checkered flag.

“Clean air is always important, but it was a bigger factor than it’s been in a long, long time,” Wood said.

In addition to the work of his chassis strategists, Wood had praise for both his driver and his over-the-wall crew. “Trevor did a good job missing a couple of early wrecks that he was really close to,” he said. “And all of our stops, other than the fuel-only one at the end, were in the 13-second range.”

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team returns to the Sprint Cup Series on July 3-5 for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Woods Remember Donlavey As Their Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team Prepares to Race at Michigan

P-WB1-346-1As the Wood Brothers and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head to Michigan International Speedway for Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400, their thoughts naturally will be back home in Virginia, where friends and family are celebrating the life of Junie Donlavey, the beloved Sprint Cup team owner and loyal life-long member of the Ford racing family.

Donlavey, who died on Monday at age 90, had much in common with the Woods. Both were from Virginia, with the Donlaveys from Richmond and the Woods from Stuart. Both families made their living in NASCAR with decades of loyalty to Ford Motor Company. And, even though they were competitors at the race track, they also were close friends.

Eddie Wood, one of the current co-owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, said Donlavey’s fine reputation in the NASCAR garage was much deserved.

“Anything you needed he’d help you,” Wood said. “He was one of the most well-liked people in the garage ever.”

Wood, who shared a birthday with Donlavey as both were born on April 8, went on say that his family and Donlavey were as close as competitors could be. It was almost a nightly event for the two to talk on the phone.

“You could call his shop any hour of the night and he’d answer on the first ring,” Wood said. “Sometimes we’d talk about racing, but a lot of those late-night conversations were about life in general, just friends talking.”

Wood pointed out that it was Donlavey who helped many young drivers get established in NASCAR’s premier series, including Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader, both of whom went on to drive the Woods’ No. 21 Ford. And like the Woods, he also raced Modified and Sportsman cars.

Fittingly, Donlavey’s lone Cup win, at Dover International Speedway, in 1981, came in a race the Woods dominated with Neil Bonnett driving, and it came with one of Ford’s most loyal short trackers, Jody Ridley, at the wheel of Donlavey’s No. 90 Ford.

“We were as happy for them as if we’d won the race,” Wood said.

DSC_0530 (2) It’s also fitting that for this weekend’s race, the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will be decked out in Quick Lane blue, a similar color to the one that Donlavey’s Fords carried for many years.

The paint scheme includes the usual Motorcraft logos but also has prominent QuickLaneTire & AutoCenter markings on the hood. The rear deck lid will feature the Quick Lane tag line “Ready to Serve,” which refers to the company’s factory-trained technicians’ willingness to go the extra mile to provide fast and dependable service with trusted expertise to make a customer’s vehicle ready for the road.

Qualifying for the Quicken Loans 400 is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. eastern, and the race is set to take the green flag on Sunday just after 1p.m. with TV coverage on TNT.