Wood Brothers Racing press release
Donnie Wingo and the crew of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion find themselves in essentially the same spot they were in a year ago this time at Daytona International Speedway. They’re working to repair damage the No. 21 Ford Fusion suffered in one of the 150-mile Gatorade Duels.
Like he did in last year’s Duel, driver Trevor Bayne showed speed and skill, but he didn’t emerge unscathed.
On Thursday his Fusion suffered damage to the right rear quarter panel while narrowly avoiding a Lap Nine crash, then the front splitter was damaged when he ran over a coil spring, apparently one knocked loose when Danica Patrick crashed on the last lap.
Wingo sounded confident that he and the crew can repair the damage, which is not as significant as what the team dealt with last year.
“We’ve just got to get it back in one piece and get the race engine in it,” Wingo said, adding that the team may skip Friday’s practice session, then do its final on-track tuning on Saturday.
Although Bayne didn’t get the finish he was looking for in Thursday’s Duel, he did come away with something that is almost as important. He now has 60 laps of experience at pack racing, something he badly needs heading into Sunday’s Daytona 500. Last year, Bayne proved to be one of the best at the then-new two-car tandem racing. But the rules are different this year, and the drivers are back in the big packs that were prevalent a few years back, before Bayne joined the NASCAR scene.
Despite the damage, Bayne finished 12th in the first Duel, which puts him starting 40th on Sunday.
“We’ve got a really fast car, and we learned a lot,” Bayne said. “And we know it doesn’t matter where you start in the 500. Everything we learned is going to pay off.”
In his Duel, Bayne ran near the front at times, then in the middle of the pack and at the back. Sometimes he was pushing other cars, and sometimes he was being pushed.
“Trevor’s now been in every possible position,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “He put himself in spots that he could learn from.”
The 54th Daytona 500 is set to get the green flag just after 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, with TV coverage by FOX.