Trevor Bayne Carries Momentum To Darlington With Impressive Run In Bristolby Hunter Thomas August 20, 2017
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Trevor Bayne will enter the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway with momentum after finishing seventh in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Bayne isn’t having quite the season that he’d like, but lately, the driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford Fusion has strung together two top-10 finishes before entering Darlington Raceway, a track where he has struggled. At Michigan International Speedway on August 13, Bayne finished fifth, his only top-five finish of the season, and this past weekend, the Tennessee native overcame a blown tire to finish seventh in Bristol.
“I feel like the last month we had strategy, things went our way and we’ve gotten results from it,” Bayne said following his seventh-place finish in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. “Here at Bristol, Roush Fenway always gives us good cars and we’ve had really good runs the last four or five races. Our Ford was fast tonight at the end when it mattered. At one point we blew a tire, hit the fence. I thought we were going to get lucky and get back on the lead lap. Got on the lead lap, got a caution and put new tires on it and started passing cars. Jimmie (Johnson) had a pretty epic battle there for a minute. We were able to get to seventh and pretty happy about that. We’ll keep working on it. Obviously we need to win. That’s what our goal is. Seventh is great but we have to get there.”
Sitting 19th in the standings, Bayne will need a win at either Darlington Raceway or Richmond Raceway to catapult his team into the Playoffs. In two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at the track Too Tough To Tame, Bayne has finished 35th and 40th. Last year’s poor result was due to engine issues.
“Last year, Darlington was really tough,” Bayne said. “We lost an engine pretty early in the race, but I did learn a little bit during that race. We were running around on seven cylinders and I started that run right with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and he ran away from me obviously when I was on seven cylinders, but at the end of the run we actually caught him back and passed him on seven and I realized how important tire management is there – not that I didn’t already know that, but the fact that we could catch a car as fast as the 48 on seven cylinders blew my mind.
“So going to Darlington this time we’re obviously trying to implement that, backing up my corners, making sure I get to the gas early, saving tires, working on stuff like that, but Darlington is not typically one you can save fuel at because tires are so important. So we’ve got to get our cars faster. We’ve just got to work on it. I love running the top at race tracks. I like doing that here at Bristol, Homestead, the old Texas, Vegas, California – places you can run the top. I would think Darlington would be a strong suit for us, but it just hasn’t played out, so I need to buckle down and figure out how to get a good result there.”
Although Bayne and his Roush Fenway Racing team have only captured four top-10 finishes this season, they have been just on the edge of being contenders. In fact, in 24 starts this season, 10 finishes have been within the top-15, and Bayne has only had four DNFs. Over the offseason, Roush Fenway Racing went from three teams to a two-car organization, but that move hasn’t kept them out of Victory Lane, and Bayne feels that there has actually been growth.
“But this season I feel like we’ve had growth,” Bayne said about Roush Fenway Racing. “We’ve performed better. Ricky’s (Stenhouse Jr.) got two wins this year. Our speedway program gave me shots to win. My car was really fast and I feel like we’re just executing better. We’re able to focus on that. We still have areas to improve on that going to two cars doesn’t fix, but what it does do is allow us to implement things a little bit quicker, get them in the cars.
With the Bojangles Southern 500 being two weeks away, Bayne will now look towards September with hopes of continuing the success found in August. The Lady in Black is one of the toughest tracks on the schedule, but with nothing to lose as far as a Playoff berth is concerned, pit strategy may come into play and give the team an opportunity to win if performance isn’t able to do so.
The Bojangles’ Southern 500 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 3.