AVONDALE, Ariz. – Roush Fenway’s Trevor Bayne averted near disaster to battle back to a fourth-place finish in the No. 6 Valvoline NextGen Ford Mustang in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Just after the half-way mark, Bayne took a high line to avoid a wreck and uncertainty over his tires forced him to the pits for two fresh tires and extra fuel. That extra fuel let the No.6 car stay on the track late in the race while the rest of the field pitted, and pushed Bayne to a top-five finish in the Dollar General 200.
“Mike Kelley does great with pit strategy,” said Bayne after the race. After mechanical problems in Daytona, his goal was to keep the fenders on the Valvoline NextGen Ford Mustang and focus on his track position. After the strong finish, Bayne said “I’m excited with a top five. That’s what we’ve got to do every week and just chip away at this points battle and not jeopardize ourselves.”
That’s exactly what the team did. With only minor adjustments through the race and a smart fuel strategy, the No.6 crew kept themselves in a strong position at the end. After 200 laps, the No.6 Valvoline NextGen Ford Mustang ended exactly where it started the race, with Kyle Busch taking the win.
Bayne wrapped up the day saying, “It feels good to be able to turn it around after a bad week. These guys never got down one time during the week at the shop. You can’t get down in the valleys, or up on the mountaintops when you’re running good. You’ve got to stay in the middle ground and I’m proud of them for doing that.”
With the strong run, Bayne moved up 15 spots in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings to 11th; 25 points behind first. The finish is Bayne’s best at PIR in eight previous NASCAR starts and his third consecutive finish of seventh or better in the NNS at Phoenix.
Bayne and the No. 6 team return to action next Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he has finished sixth or better – including a pair of top-five finishes – in all three of his Nationwide Series starts at the 1.5-mile track. Bayne finished fourth at Vegas last season.