Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion head back this weekend to the kind of track they run best this weekend as the Sprint Cup circuit runs the Auto Club 400 at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway.
Bayne and his fellow Ford drivers have combined to win three straight Cup races on tracks a mile-and-a-half long or longer. Carl Edwards won at Homestead-Miami Speedway last fall and at Las Vegas this year, while Bayne won the Daytona 500.
Those intermediate tracks are where the Wood Brothers have put their focus for most of the team’s 61 years in NASCAR.
Crew chief Donnie Wingo said he’s looking for positive results this weekend, given Ford’s strength on the intermediate tracks including Auto Club Speedway and Bayne’s previous results at that track. In his past two Nationwide Series races at the Fontana, Calif., track Bayne posted 11th-place finishes.
“We should be good out there,” Wingo said. “Looking back at the intermediate tracks, that’s where we’ve been better and where all the Ford guys have been strong.”
Wingo pointed out that it was on one of those intermediate tracks, Texas Motor Speedway, where last fall Bayne made his Sprint Cup debut in the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion and had an impressive run. “And at Las Vegas we had a fast car, but got caught with a speeding penalty on pit road,” Wingo said.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew once again will be racing a brand-new Ford Fusion, with Ford FR9 power under the hood.
Wingo said Ford’s new NASCAR power plant, the company’s first-ever engine built specifically for racing, has played a key role in the Ford team’s overall resurgence in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I think it has helped a lot,” Wingo said. The Wood Brothers helped develop the new engine, running it all their Cup appearances in 2010, while the other Ford teams didn’t run it exclusively until later in the season.
“I think Doug Yates and his guys have done a darn good job with that engine,” Wingo said.
The Wood Brothers haven’t raced at Auto Club Speedway since 2008, and team co-owner Eddie Wood is looking forward to returning to that California neighborhood.
Although his family’s team has yet to win at the relatively new Fontana track, they were almost unbeatable at the old Ontario Motor Speedway just a few miles from the current superspeedway.
Ontario hosted NASCAR elite circuit nine times between 1971 and 1980, and the Woods had three victories, two with A.J. Foyt and one with David Pearson, and three runner-up finishes.
“We have a lot of fond memories from Ontario,” Wood said. “And I’ll be glad to get back to Fontana, especially now that they’ve shortened the race from 500 miles to 400.
“The racing’s been a lot better.”
Qualifying for the Auto Club 400 is set for Friday at 7:10 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to get the green flag on Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern with TV coverage on FOX.