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Bayne still has hopes for Nationwide title

August 21st, 2014 10:47 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Bayne still has hopes for Nationwide title

BRISTOL — Trevor Bayne knows there is a lot of ground to make up in a short amount of time.

Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, is currently sixth in the Nationwide Series point standings. He trails Chase Elliott by 52 points entering tonight’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While there are just 11 races left on the schedule, the Knoxville driver isn’t about to give up hope on winning this season’s championship.

“We want to start making up points as soon as possible,” said Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion. “We want to be a contender when it comes to (the final race at) Homestead. We want to start that this weekend at Bristol.”

After all, Bristol is the track at the very top of his list of places to win. While other drivers may put more emphasis on a pair of bigger tracks, nothing gets Bayne excited like coming to the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” less than two hours where he grew up.

“When you walk into Bristol, it’s a different feeling,” he said. “A lot of people grew up watching races at Indy or Daytona. Bristol was that place for me. It’s where I sat in the grandstands at four or five years old and thought, ‘I want to do this one day.’ To be out here at Bristol making laps in the top levels of NASCAR, it’s something special for me.”

He appeared Wednesday at the Food City Family Race Night in Knoxville and was motivated by seeing so many of his old friends and fans.

The desire to win is there and Bayne feels a lot more confident after the Nationwide Series has spent the last two weeks on road courses. He’s even a former pole winner at Bristol, but the high-banked oval has also been a source of frustration. 

While Bayne has three top-10 finishes in the past five Bristol races, he hasn’t been close enough to the front to be competing for wins.

“Being it’s a short track, that’s kind of my style of racing even though it’s unique with all the banking,” he said. “I’m still trying to learn this place and figure out what it takes to get to victory lane.”

In two of the three most recent oval races, Bayne finished second at Chicago and third at Iowa. The biggest challenge hasn’t been the races where the car stays near the front, but when he’s racing in the pack from around the seventh to 15th positions.

“When you have a good car, those are the easier days,” he said. “You get out front and work on your race car to make it better. When you’re racing around 10th place, that’s where a lot of guys are battling. 

He’s also announced a full-time move to the Sprint Cup Series next season. Still a young driver at age 23, he’s no longer a rookie at the Cup level. He has 55 career starts over the past four years in limited action for the Wood Brothers team.

While the Daytona 500 win is their only top-five finish, they have managed a couple of top 10s since then. This season has been a struggle with an average finish of 30th place, but there is hope for the future with Bayne going to the Roush program where he will be teammates with Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Bayne, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Series, is also working with the recently retired Mark Martin, who has signed on as a consultant with Roush.

Martin brings the experience of a 40-time Sprint Cup Series winner and a five-time champion of the International Race of Champions series. Bayne explained that Martin has been sitting in on meetings for a couple of months now.

“Mark gives his opinions whether it’s from the driver’s standpoint or his experience with race cars,” he said. “I feel he’s going to be a huge help going into my first full-time Sprint Cup season. He’s somebody I will definitely lean on. Having somebody like Mark around with the experience and wisdom, that’s something you can’t trade for anything else.”

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