When Trevor Bayne broke on the NASCAR scene, some though he was on the path to NASCAR stardom. He was let go by Michael Waltrip Racing late in 2010, but was quickly scooped up by Roush Fenway Racing. The following February he won the Daytona 500, then things took a turn.
He lost two months during the 2011 season dealing with an illness, now reveals as Lyme disease. Sponsors did not flock to him like anticipated, so his schedule was cut and he ran part-time in 2012.
This year, now that teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has graduated to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Bayne is finally getting his chance to run for the Nationwide Series title.
Just three races in and Bayne can tell a difference by racing every week.
“Just the comfort level that you get after being in the car and being able to feel it and know what you need by race time. Even on the Cup races I feel like it’s helping me out. On the Nationwide side those cars have been so fast week in and week out and that just builds your confidence in yourself and in the team and the whole program. Last weekend, we got into the wall with the 32 and we were able to drive back from 28th to fourth and have a solid finish. You points race differently when you’re racing every weekend. It’s way different than trying to go out and win every race, so that you can get a sponsor and maybe continue to race or not, so I’m really comfortable in this situation that I’ve got and I feel like it’s helping me in every aspect from confidence to the competition side to the comfort level – just everything involved in it,” Bayne told reporters Friday at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
He is coming into the series at a time where the competition has never been stronger. Added competition not only improves the series, but also improves the drivers as well.
“It definitely pushes the competition to the next level when you look at that. There’s guys like Sam Hornish, who is leading the points now, that has won Indy 500s and run for Indy championships, and guys like Brian Vickers, who has run in the Cup Series for multiple years, and Elliott Sadler. You’ve got new guys, like Austin Dillon, and Allgaier – there are so many names in the Nationwide Series this year and going into it everybody talked about how it’s gonna be one of the most competitive years that we’ve ever had and it goes back to 2009 when I came into this series and Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski and the Gibbs cars were running strong and it’s back to that level of competition, I feel like, so it makes us up our game and you know that every week you’ve got to be consistently in the top five,” said Bayne.
Even though it’s two years after when he would have wanted it, Trevor Bayne is finally in a position to run for the Nationwide Series title. He is poised to learn everything he can and prove to the critics he isn’t a one-hit wonder.