FORT WORTH, Texas -- Trevor Bayne will enjoy his third-best starting spot this season Sunday, which might raise the question of whether he has extra motivation with this being his last race at Roush Fenway Racing.
"I wish motivation could equal results because we could be running good for a long time," Bayne said Friday after qualifying 15th overall. "I've been highly motivated for about four years."
The 27-year-old Bayne is making his 187th career Cup start but is out of his Roush Fenway ride after four full-time seasons there. The organization pulled his full-time status in May, having him share the ride with veteran Matt Kenseth the rest of this year.
Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion, doesn't have any sponsorship to take with him to another team and is looking for 2019 rides. He has talked to teams but nothing has yet materialized.
"I'm just trying to take it all in this weekend," Bayne said. "It's a weird feeling for me not knowing because I don't have direction. I don't know if this is my last race [ever].
"It might be. It might not be. Not knowing is kind of tough and I just try to enjoy it and take it in. ... It's surreal. When I came in this weekend I was like, 'I better enjoy it because it might be the last, but I hope it's not.'"
Bayne's story is a sidebar to the main storyline this weekend as the AAA 500 serves as the middle race of the third (semifinal) round of the playoffs. Joey Logano knows he will be one of the four drivers vying for the title Nov. 18 at Homestead thanks to his win last week at Martinsville.
For the seven remaining playoffs drivers still seeking a spot in Homestead, their average finish at Texas: Chase Elliott (7.4), Kevin Harvick (11.1), Kyle Busch (11.6), Martin Truex, Jr. (14.0), Kurt Busch (14.8), Clint Bowyer (15.8) and Aric Almirola (20.6).
Those with wins at Texas: Kyle Busch (3), Kurt Busch (1) and Kevin Harvick (1).
Here's how they'll line up -- and where the current playoff drivers stand -- for the race Sunday:
1. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske No. 12 Ford): Blaney led 148 laps in April 2017 and has finishes of sixth and fifth in his past two Texas starts. So this pole is not too much of a surprise -- he's fast at the track.
2. Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford): Bowyer enters the race 42 points behind the current playoff cutoff. His ninth-place finish in April was his best in his past eight Texas starts.
3. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford): Harvick is 25 points ahead of the current playoff cutoff, giving him a little bit of a cushion. Harvick is the defending winner of the Texas playoff race and finished second in April. He has led 202 laps in the past three Texas races. He has finished in the top-3 in five of the past eight Texas races.
4. Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford): Almirola enters the race 50 points behind the current playoff cutoff. Almirola wrecked out of the race in April at Texas, one of only two races he did that this year. He has one career top-10 at the track, a seventh in the April 2013 race.
5. Brad Keselowski (Team Penske No. 2 Ford): Keselowski has led only four laps in his past five Texas starts after leading 312 on his way to a second-place finish in November 2015.
6. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota): Hamlin swept the 2010 Texas races but has only one top-5 (a year ago, when he finished third) and four top-10s since then.
7. Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford): Busch is 25 points behind the current playoff cutoff, not insurmountable odds to make it on points but not good odds. He won in November 2009 at the track and they are giving away bobbleheads of Busch this weekend, and he has six top-10s in his past eight Texas starts.
8. Joey Logano (Team Penske No. 22 Ford): With his win at Martinsville, Logano already has a ticket to Homestead to compete in the championship. Logano won in Cup in April 2014 and has five consecutive top-10s at the track. He has nine top-10s in his past 11 Texas starts.
9. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet): Byron won in June 2016 in a truck race at Texas. He enjoyed his first Cup start in April, starting 33rd and finishing 10th.
10. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota): Busch enters the race 46 points ahead the current playoff cutoff, so a solid day potentially could put him 56 points ahead and guarantee him a spot at Homestead. Having led 116 laps in April on his way to his third career Cup win at Texas, Busch has eight top-5s in his past 11 starts. The other three finishes were outside the top 10.
11. Paul Menard (Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford): Menard hasn't finished in the top 20 in his past five Texas starts.
12. Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota): Jones has won three Xfinity races and a truck race at Texas. In Cup, he has back-to-back top-10s with a fourth in April.
13. Martin Truex, Jr. (Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota): Like Harvick, Truex is 25 points ahead of the current playoff cutoff, giving him a little bit of a cushion. He has never won a Cup race at Texas but has two seconds and two thirds. While he crashed out of the race in April, he had led 363 laps in the previous four Texas races. He will start at the rear because of an engine change.
14. Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet): This has not been a great track for Newman, although he did win in March 2003. He has led 21 laps at the track since then with only five top-10 finishes.
15. Trevor Bayne (Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford): This is Bayne's last race for Roush Fenway Racing. It has been an interesting ride. He has a decent history at Texas with nine top-20 finishes in 16 starts (and an Xfinity win in 2011).
16. Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet): Elliott enters the race 31 points behind the current playoff cutoff. Elliott has good memories of Texas, the site of his first career Xfinity win in 2014. He has led nine laps in five Cup starts and had four consecutive top-10 finishes before placing 11th in April.
17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford): Stenhouse has an Xfinity win at Texas but his best Cup finish at the track is 12th, a year ago, in 11 starts.
18. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet): Bowman has six starts at Texas, with his best finish a 13th in the Dale Earnhardt Jr. substitute role in November 2016.
19. Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota): Suarez has a best of 14th in three Cup starts at Texas. He will start at the rear because of an engine change.
20. Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet): One of McMurray's highlights this season was a third-place finish at Texas in April.
21. Chris Buescher (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 37 Chevrolet): He had his best Texas race in April as he started 18th and finished 15th. He has a Hendrick engine this weekend so the team can see if it needs to change any of its fittings on its cars for next year when it makes a full switch from ECR Engines to Hendrick. He will start at the rear because of an engine change.
22. Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet): Larson finished second in April 2017 at Texas but has failed to finish in his past two starts at the track.
23. Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet): Johnson has seven career wins at Texas, with sixth of them coming in the last 12 races. He has led 1,041 laps at Texas, the most of any active driver. He was among those who crashed out in April.
24. Ty Dillon (Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet): Dillon finished 13th at Texas in April -- his second-best finish this year behind a sixth-place finish at Daytona in July.
25. AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet): Allmendinger has two 10th-place finishes in his career at Texas, a place where he has never led a lap.
26. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet): Dillon doesn't have a top-10 finish in 11 Texas starts. He was 26th in April.
27. David Ragan (Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford): Ragan has one top-20 in his past 13 Texas starts.
28. Regan Smith (Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet): Texas has not treated Smith well as he seeks his first top-20 finish in his 12th start.
29. Michael McDowell (Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford): His 14th at Texas in April is second only to his ninth-place Daytona 500 finish this year as far as his best results.
30. Bubba Wallace (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet): One of Wallace's best runs of the season was an eighth-place finish at Texas in April.
31. Matt DiBenedetto (Go FAs Racing No. 32 Ford): DiBenedetto finished 16th at Texas in April. He will start at the rear because of a transmission change.
32. Landon Cassill (StarCom Racing No. 00 Chevrolet): Cassill's 21st-place finish at Texas in April was his career best in 16 starts at the track.
33. Ross Chastain (Premium Motorsports No. 15 Chevrolet): Chastain finished 18th at Texas in April, his first Cup race at the track.
34. Parker Kligerman (Gaunt Brothers Racing No. 96 Toyota): A last-minute decision to put Kligerman in the car for this weekend, this team is not sure who will drive at Phoenix and Homestead.
35. J.J. Yeley (BK Racing No. 23 Toyota): Yeley finished 17th in this race 11 years ago, his last top-20 at the track.
36. Kyle Weatherman (StarCom Racing No. 99 Chevrolet): This is Weatherman's sixth start this season. He got a late call to join the team for this race as Joey Gase (now at the No. 51 car) was originally on the entry list.
37. Corey LaJoie (TriStar Motorsports No. 72 Chevrolet): LaJoie has two Cup starts at Texas but still looking for his first top-30.
38. Reed Sorenson (Premium Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet): Sorenson had double duty this week, racing a truck for Premium as well.
39. Joey Gase (Rick Ware Racing No. 51 Ford): Gase has three Cup starts at Texas but still looking for a finish in the top 30.
40. David Starr (Obaika Racing No. 97 Toyota): Starr was able to qualify this car into the field for the first Cup race for this team in 2018. It bought some of BK Racing's old equipment.