A 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.”