|Bayne was in contention before the crash|
On the other side sat a brand-new Fusion, one that had never touched asphalt before being unloaded from the Wood Brothers’ hauler.
The first car, despite the damage, did its job. It was third fastest in qualifying, assuring driver Trevor Bayne and the team a starting spot for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Bayne will start 33rd, one spot worse than he started in 2011 when he won the 500.
The backup car now is poised to pick up where the first car left off; after plenty of massaging by crew chief Donnie Wingo and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew.
“We may not even practice on Friday, but that’s OK,” said team co-owner Eddie Wood. “We didn’t practice on Friday in 2011, and we won that race.”
There also is a final practice session on Saturday, and Wood said he was confident the new car would be race ready by then. Despite Thursday’s crash, Wood and the Motorcraft crew remained upbeat.
“You can’t be disappointed when you lead more than half the race,” he said.
In the early going Thursday, Bayne and his red-and-white Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion looked like potential winners. He started on the outside pole and passed pole-sitter Danica Patrick on the opening lap. He led the first 36 circuits, but slid entering pit road, flat-spotting his right-front tire and necessitating a four-tire change.
While racing his way back to the front, Bayne was swept up in a multi-car crash on the backstretch with just six laps to go.
“It is unfortunate because we had a fast race car, and you don’t want to tear that stuff up,” Bayne said. “But I know they have a good back-up car for me, and we will try to get it on Sunday.”