Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will line up 19th for Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’ll be the Knoxville resident’s first Sprint Cup start at his home track.
Bayne said his qualifying effort was somewhat hampered by having to jump back and forth between the No. 21 Ford Fusion and the No. 16 Ford Mustang that he’ll race in the Nationwide Series on Saturday.
“I think I could have gotten more out of it if I wouldn’t have had to practice my Nationwide car,” Bayne said. “The cars are so much different, I would say more here than any other track because of the way they load up and the horsepower, so you don’t overdrive the corner.”
Crew chief Donnie Wingo agreed that Bayne’s busy schedule was a challenge. He said he wasn’t ecstatic with the qualifying effort, but he was pleased.
“We picked up 10 spots from practice,” Wingo said. “We were able to back up our practice speed, and a lot of the other guys weren’t able to do that.”
Bayne’s best lap in practice was at 126.411 miles per hour, and he qualified at 126.453 mph.
Wingo said the team made progress on tuning the chassis of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion but didn’t quite get it tuned to perfection. “We never quite got the car freed up,” he said.
The next big challenge facing Bayne and Wingo – and the rest of the drivers and teams in the field – is adjusting to a new right-side tire compound that will be made available to the teams on Saturday morning. The switch is being made after some right-side tires wore through to the cords in practice on Friday.
Wingo said he really won’t know how the new tire will respond until after Bayne makes some laps in practice on Saturday. “I really have no clue,” he said. “We’ll just have to work through it.”
The veteran crew chief said he plans to run some practice laps on Saturday with the old right-side tires and some with the new compound, with the goal of getting a good balance on the car’s handling. Each team will get just one set of the new compound tires for practice but a full allotment for the 500.
The Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City is set to get the green flag just after 1 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.