Trevor Bayne finished third Saturday in the Xfinity Series Production Alliance 300 at Auto Club Speedway. It was the first of seven Xfinity Series races currently scheduled with Joe Gibbs Racing and the beginning of a new opportunity.
With sponsor Devotion Nutrition on the No 18 Toyota, his focus is on running competitively in an effort to renew his career in NASCAR. He started the race strong with a dominant car and won the first stage but lost momentum after a slow pit stop, eventually working his way back toward the front for a top-five.
After winning the 2011 Daytona 500 with Wood Brothers Racing in only his second Cup Series start, it looked as though Bayne’s future in NASCAR was secure. In 2015, he signed with Jack Roush to run full-time in the Cup Series. But, after four years, Bayne’s performance fell short of Roush’s expectations and his contract was not renewed after the 2018 season.
His current alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing is a dream come true for Bayne.
“I don’t know what comes of this,” Bayne continued. “I don’t know if I end up back in a Cup car full-time or an Xfinity car contending for championships. That’s what I would love to see happen, but I feel like, in seven races, I need to go win three to five races if I’m going to have a shot at a comeback. That’s my goal. That’s what I told Jason Ratcliff (crew chief). We’ve got seven – let’s go win five. Maybe it only takes one or two, I don’t know, but to have a shot in the 18 car, that’s my goal.”
Bayne’s third-place finish at Auto Club was not the win he was looking for but it was an impressive performance and a confirmation of his commitment to making the most of this second chance
“I got to race for wins today. Didn’t get it done, unfortunately, but I’m not going to get greedy with our first one back. We won the first stage, had a pit stop that got us behind and it just drove different in traffic. Once I got back to the front, it was pretty racy – really just too tight to have a shot to run with the 07 (Cole Custer). He could get through the corner really good, but I’m back in a race car, battling for wins. I was talking with Noah (Gragson) about which lane I ran in (turns) one and two there. To me, second or third don’t matter, I’ve got to win races, so I tried to go below the 07, didn’t work out, but super pumped to be here with Devotion, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.”
While his future in NASCAR may be uncertain, Bayne’s passion and desire to succeed are unshakable. His next race will be at Phoenix Raceway on March 12 and the goal remains the same.
“It really feels like one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had outside of getting in that Wood Brothers car in Daytona. To me, this feels like the reset,” Bayne said. “I need to go win three to five races if I’m going to have a shot at a comeback.”