The hardest part for Trevor Bayne was not being able to show what his No. 21 Motorcraft Ford could do. Standing in the garage area looking at a race car that was just as good if not better than the one sitting just out front in the museum, Bayne was suddenly brought back down to earth.
“If it was going be a winner, we’ll never know, but I think it could have been for sure,” said Bayne.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”253″][/media-credit]Instead, just five laps after the green flag the team was packing up and heading home, memories of February long gone. After starting on the outside of the front row, Bayne found a drafting partner early in Clint Bowyer before he started to fall through the field. He landed on the front bumper of the No. 2 Dodge of Brad Keselowski but found out that these dancing partners had two left feet.
“I wanted to be a pusher because I know that these things can happen,” Bayne explained. “He got to us and was pushing us down the frontstretch and I was still kind of lifting a little bit, letting him get to my bumper and then I got back to the gas wide-open. I don’t know if I turned down more getting in or if he kind of came up across our bumper, but either way, our bumpers caught wrong and it sent up spinning.”
Keselowski turned the No. 21 entering turn one and Bayne starting spinning toward the inside of the track. Bowyer and Jeff Burton who were drafting on the inside of the No. 2 and No. 21 got collected as Bayne clipped Bowyer’s machine and shot back up into the wall head-on.
“It happens all the time but it’s tough that it is our car,” said Bayne. “I hate tearing up a good race car and they duplicated what we had here in February, which is hard to do, so I’m thankful for the Wood Brothers standing behind me through everything I’ve been through this year.”
The 20-year-old has been through more than he and the rest of the sport could imagine. Just 24 hours after his birthday in February he won the Daytona 500 for one of the most famous teams and family in the sport. It was just his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and it shot him to super stardom.
Bayne can no longer walk through the garage or any area for that matter without being recognized. Something that seemed unimaginable a year ago when he saw the likes of Jeff Gordon or Kyle Busch and the swarms of fans around them. Bayne has his own following now and no longer has to think about how cool it would be like Gordon or Busch.
Yet, for all the good there has been the bad. What started in Daytona in February came full circle Saturday night at the same track.
“It’s not fun, I can promise you,” said Bayne of his trouble. “It takes about a half-second and you say, ‘Oh, here it goes,’ because you get sideways and you know the point of correction. You know at what point you can still correct and then you know when it’s too far … It’s going to happen again tonight, I’m sure, but it’s just really unfortunate for us. I wanted to back-up what we did here in February, obviously, but we aren’t going to get the chance to do that.”
He would have given it a valiant try though. On top the speed and qualifying charts, Bayne was storyline “a” entering the weekend. There was never any doubt that he was going to be fast or would have a drafting partner. All eyes were on the red and white Ford that while able to fly under the radar in February was now expected to be at the front of the field on Saturday night.
Except the fan favorite and fantasy league shoe-in, Bayne finished 41st on Saturday night. And while he was disappointed at the turn of events Bayne left Daytona with the right mindset, something he’d been praised for since he arrived on the NASCAR scene.
“I can’t explain what I’ve been through this year,” he said. “It’s tough at times and it’s good at times, but I just know that I’ve got really good people behind me and that’s why I say that about Ford and everybody at Wood Brothers and Roush Fenway on the Nationwide side. I’ve got great people behind me, so that gives me confidence. If I didn’t have that and I didn’t have my faith and everything else, right now that would be a pretty bad blow I can promise you that.”