Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion Will Start on the Front Row at Daytona
The Daytona magic continues for Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers as the Daytona 500 winners qualified on the outside pole for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Bayne and the Woods, who run a part-time Cup schedule, returned to Daytona outside the top 35 in car owner points and not assured of a starting spot. Still, they focused on setting the car up for racing instead of qualifying.
But when it came time to run against the clock, the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion was plenty fast in qualifying trim. The rookie Bayne was the 12th driver to go out, and he ran a lap at 182.002 miles per hour. It withstood the challenge of many a veteran before being topped by pole-sitter Mark Martin, who was just a tick faster at 182.065 mph.
“We were careful,” said team co-owner Len Wood, pointing out that the team didn’t use any qualifying adjustments or equipment that might hinder them once the green flag drops. “We’re ready to race.”
The Woods had to build another superspeedway car as their Daytona 500-winning Fusion is on display for a year at Daytona USA. Preliminary testing showed that the car and engine were as good or better than the winner from February.
“Obviously, we don’t have the one that’s sitting in the Daytona USA museum, but they’ve built me another one that’s just as good,” Bayne said in his post-qualifying press conference. “We’re happy to be able to show how fast it is and hopefully, it’ll be that way in the race.”
As Bayne watched his fellow drivers try to knock him off the pole, his car owners Len and Eddie Wood kept him in check, telling him from years of experience that it was too early to get his hopes too high.
“You always want to get the best starting spot possible, but we’re definitely happy with the front row,” Bayne said.
It’s obvious that Bayne has adapted quickly to the tandem style of racing at Daytona, but he said his success in qualifying is more of a team effort.
“The Wood Brothers have this track figured out,” he said, pointing out that a driver doesn’t play as big a role in qualifying at Daytona as they do at other tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit.
“Here, you’re just running the top and then you go to the bottom and make sure you don’t bind the car up any and run the shortest line possible,” he said. “In the race there’s a lot of thought that goes into it – not tearing up your equipment and finding partners and timing out the ending right - but as far as qualifying goes, that just goes to show what the teams can do, and the Wood Brothers and [crew chief] Donnie Wingo and those guys have done a great job with our superspeedway cars.
“I think this is one of the places where time in a car pays off… When you put a lot of time into a car and really work at it and try to figure things out, it really shows on the track as speed.”