After seeing the news that car owner Jack Roush had replaced him with Matt Kenseth in the No. 6 in selected races starting May 12 at Kansas, Bayne wanted more than ever to win at Talladega. Unfortunately for him, he was a victim of an accident started by other drivers when Erik Jones' car got turned sideways — collecting Bayne in a multi-car accident that he could do nothing to avoid.
Bayne talked about the wreck and the frustration of losing a chance to finish well or even win.
"We went into turn one and I saw Kyle Busch kind of get rooted up high," he said. "The third lane seemed to be the best for us. The car was on the splitter and the higher I could stay the better off we were. I went to the top to keep my run going and coming off the corner I didn't see what happened. But watching the replay, it looks like the 20 got turned and turned up into us."
The pressure is on the 27-year-old Knoxville driver more than ever with his every race now going to be measured against Kenseth's performance. Bayne isn't happy about the shared ride as noted in last Wednesday's press conference. His only option at this point is to simply do the best he can and hope it's enough. However, the Roush team hasn't shown much speed other than the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, and that's why he was so upset about the wreck and missing out on a rare chance to run up front.
"It stinks. You try to manage your highs and lows, though," he said. "We will move on and go to Dover. It is frustrating because Talladega is one of the ones you know you can win at and we wanted to do that."
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
Volunteer Speedway ended its racing program at 10:48 p.m. last Saturday night.
Over the years, an often-heard complaint is how no one wanted to go to the dirt track because you're there half the night. It isn't the case at the Bulls Gap dirt track these days.
On the other hand, Kingsport Speedway has been blessed with great crowds and big car counts early this season. But a problem the last two weeks is the races not starting on time. With the increased number of cars, it has taken longer for qualifying and instead of racing starting at 8 p.m., it's been closer to 9. Furthermore, a number of wrecks in last Friday’s preliminary races threw everything way behind schedule.
The Late Model Stock race didn't start until after midnight, which meant half the crowd left before the featured race of the evening.
In fairness to the speedway staff, there were three long red-flag periods, which were necessary after two hard crashes and another time for a car leaving a trail of oil on the track all the way through turns 3 and 4.
My wish is that Kingsport Speedway would run more Saturday afternoon shows, but since that likely won’t happen, some of the other options are time limits for the undercard races or moving the late model feature up in the program.
Originally scheduled as the final race of the night, track officials did move up the late model race ahead of a second 15-lap feature for the Mod 4 division. But in a case where everything is so far behind schedule, you need to move up the Late Models even further. As the featured class, the Late Model race should never start later than 10 p.m.
Kingsport Speedway, with a 3/8-mile concrete oval, offers great racing and thrilling action, and it has drawn big crowds for the first three races of the season. The fans I've talked to love the action and commend the job which general manager Karen Tunnell has done in promoting the track. They just want to see the program move a little quicker.
Another weekly racing program at Kingsport Speedway is scheduled for this Friday night with twin features for the Pure Street division.
COOLER HEADS PREVAIL
Fans and participants braved cool temperatures last Saturday night at Volunteer Speedway, where Tom Juhl Jr. of Rogersville edged Tony Trent at the finish line to score his first-ever win in the Classic division at the 4/10-mile dirt track.
The strongest field of cars was in the Crate Late Model division as Newport’s Josh Henry finished ahead of Rusty Ballenger and Trevor Sise. The Washington County trio of Jonesborough racers Tim Byrd and Bobby Mays, and Tim Maupin of Johnson City, finished in positions four through six.
David Crabtree of Maryville won the 25-lap Steel Head Late Model feature, his first win at Volunteer since a win in the Super Late Model class in 2001. Travis Fultz of Harrogate won the Sportsman Late Model feature and another Claiborne County racer, David Clark of Tazewell, was the Modified Street winner.
Another six-division program is scheduled for this Saturday night.
HAMMER DOWN IN HAWKINS
Cherokee Raceway Park had weekly points racing for the IHRA Summit SuperSeries last weekend. The 1/8-mile Rogersville drag strip has its 423 Street Cars, a program designed to get racing off the streets, on Thursday and heads-up racing on Saturday. The IHRA Summit SuperSeries, the largest and most prestigious bracket-racing program in drag racing, returns on May 12.
BREAKER, BREAKER, 1-9
For tractor-trailer enthusiasts, the Fitzgerald Peterbilt Semi Casual Truck Show comes to Bristol Dragway this Saturday.
Two stunts shows at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. are part of the action as well as truck drag races from noon to 4 p.m. Legendary 70s rock band Foghat, most famous for the song, "Slow Ride," will be performing at 7:30 p.m.
The Hot Summer Nights Supercross Series also returns to action this Saturday night at I-81 Motorsports Park. It is the third race in the 16-round series.