Rain Stays Away and Bayne Qualifies 20th at the Brickyard

photo (6)There was relief all around the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team Saturday afternoon when the green flag waved to start knockout qualifying for Sunday’s John Wayne Walding 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

With no guaranteed starting spot to fall back on if rain washed out qualifying, Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team needed a chance to qualify their way into the starting field for one of NASCAR’s most prestigious races. Rain was a possibility as Saturday morning’s final practice was delayed by a brief but heavy line of storms.

When the green flag did fly on Saturday, Bayne and the team did not disappoint. He was 12th fastest in the first of three qualifying sessions with a lap at 185.854 miles per hour, which most importantly locked him into the starting field but also allowed him to advance to the second qualifying round.

In the second session he ran a lap at 184.869 mph, which puts him 20th in the line-up for Sunday’s 400-mile race.

“We knew that if it didn’t rain and we got to qualify that our car was reasonably fast,” team co-owner Len Wood said. “Trevor did a really good job.”
Wood said the team used a lot of its resources, both in practice and in the first round of qualifying, to make sure the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion was in the starting field at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s our second-biggest race of the year, and the Wood Brothers have a lot of history here,” he said. “We couldn’t focus as much on race practice because of needing to get in the race.”

Because of the emphasis on perfecting a qualifying set-up, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will rely on their Ford teammates, especially those at Roush Fenway Racing, to prepare their Fusion for race day.

“We’ll pool the resources and see where we stack up,” Wood said.

The race commonly referred to as the Brickyard 400 is set to get started just after 1 p.m. eastern time with TV coverage on ESPN.

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The Brickyard’s A Special Place For The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team

_CH60982As the NASCAR community looks back on 20 years of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, many in the sport say their most memorable experiences are from the inaugural event.

That’s true for Eddie and Len Wood, co-owners of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion. NASCAR’s first trip to the famous Brickyard was their first trip too.

Although their father Glen Wood and uncles Leonard, Delano and Ray Lee hold a major place in Indy lore through their work getting Jim Clark and his Lotus Ford to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500, the younger generation had never seen the place before NASCAR went there in 1994.

“Len and I were too young to go back when our dad and uncles were there,” Eddie Wood said. “And after that we were always busy at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend when the Indy 500 was being run.”

The brothers spent their first moments at the Brickyard back in ’94, more as tourists than race team members. They walked out onto the track, onto the yard of bricks at the start/finish line and stood under the Gasoline Alley sign.

“I took Len’s picture, and he took mine,” Wood said.

The brothers also got to know some of the officials at the track, including some old timers who were working there when the Woods went to Victory Lane in ‘65.

“We learned a lot about things that happened there prior to NASCAR and the stock cars coming there,” Wood said. “One of those officials gave us an original brick from the track. That was pretty special.”
The Woods’ Ford, driven in the inaugural Brickyard 400 by Morgan Shepherd, was pretty special too. He finished 10th in that historic race and backed it up with another 10th in the second running.

_DY50541The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, even after adopting a limited schedule, has kept Indianapolis on its schedule every year.

“It’s one of the most prestigious races we run,” Wood said.

Over the years, seven drivers have driven the No. 21 at Indy, including Michael Waltrip, Elliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Bill Elliott and Trevor Bayne, who has driven the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford the past three years and will be behind the wheel again this weekend.

Qualifying for The Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard is set for Saturday at 2:10 p.m. eastern, and the green flag is scheduled for just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on ESPN.

Early Wreck Ruins Bayne’s Run At Daytona

_DY50779For Trevor Bayne and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, the rain-delayed, rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 wound up being a missed opportunity.  In the opening laps on Sunday morning, Bayne had driven from his 25th starting spot into the top 10 and was heading to a NASCAR-mandated competition caution on Lap 20 when a wreck began unfolding in front of him.

“I feel like we were just starting the race,” he said. “The first thing I saw was the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) coming across in front of us, and I was already past the pit road entry and couldn’t turn down there.

“I slowed down enough, but four or five cars hit us from behind and sent us up the race track and we hit the outside wall.”

_DY50798The Donnie Wingo-led Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew repaired their Ford Fusion and put Bayne back on the track, although numerous laps behind the leaders. Still, he was in position to regain many of the lost positions when the rains returned and the race was called 48 laps shy of the scheduled distance, leaving him with a 38th-place finish.

Bayne said the setback was especially tough, given the speed his No. 21 Ford Fusion typically has on the restrictor-plate tracks at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway.

“It is a terrible way to end our day for the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion when you feel like you have a shot to win these races and know you are really good here,” he said. “It is disheartening for these guys…..

“The only thing we come here for are the top-fives and wins, and this is not what we wanted.”

The good news on an otherwise disappointing day for the Wood Brothers team was seeing their long-time friends, the Petty family, celebrating in Victory   Lane with their No. 43 Ford Fusion.

“We’re really happy for Richard, Dale, Aric and the rest of the team,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “It was a big day for the sport as a whole to have the 43 car in Victory Lane at Daytona on the 30th anniversary of Richard’s 200th win and on the day that our good friend Barney Hall retired from the MRN broadcast booth.”

The Woods and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team return to the track in three weeks for the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27.

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.