Trevor Bayne’s hopes for a strong finish in his first Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway ended early because of a puncture in the radiator of his No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, but it didn’t ruin the whole day.
The Wood Brothers crew, led by Donnie Wingo, replaced the radiator and sent Bayne back on the track where he and the team got valuable experience to use in future runs on the tricky, paper-clip-shaped track.
Bayne spent about 35 laps in the garage while his radiator was being replaced and wound up 35th at the finish.
Crew chief Donnie Wingo said damaged radiators are just one of the things a team has to deal with when racing in the tight confines of a half-mile track.
“That’s what happens at Martinsville,” he said.
From there, the team pressed on, determined to make the most of the day.
“After we changed the radiator, we were making changes to the car to make it faster,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “By the last half of the race, his lap times were right there with the top 10.”
Wood pointed out that Martinsville, the home track of the Wood Brothers, is a challenge for any driver, especially a rookie who’s never raced there in the past. But now Bayne has the experience that comes from 500 laps of competition against the sport’s best drivers.
“Martinsville is a hard place,” Wood said. “But now we’ve been there one time as a team, and next time we’ll know how to go back there and race better.”
Wood emphasized that Bayne has come a long way in learning Martinsville in a short time.
“He ran a smart race,” Wood said. “He didn’t get turned around. He still had brakes left on the car. He was able to help get the car better during the race, and he ran some good lap times.”
Bayne and his Motorcraft/Quick Lane team now turn their attention to Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the track where Bayne made his Sprint Cup debut last fall in the famed No. 21.
For the Woods, it’s a return to the superspeedways where they’ve had their most success over the years.
“We’ll get ready and go to Texas and get back things back to normal,” Wood said.