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The curious case of one Trevor Bayne....

 Trevor Bayne gets a handshake from legendary Leonard Wood (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   A year ago it was a stunning story.
   Now it's more than a bit curious. Almost mysterious even:
   Trevor Bayne.
   And why is the guy who won last year's Daytona 500 still looking for sponsorship?

   Here's another good one: what if the guy who won last year's Daytona 500 doesn't make the field for this Daytona 500?
   And the guy who won the Daytona 500 can't even come up with a full-time Nationwide sponsor deal?
   Something more than curious here, it would appear.
   Yes, Trevor Bayne, who doesn't have a car for Saturday night's Bud Shootout, also doesn't have a guaranteed starting spot in this year's kickoff 500.
   But, uh, Danica Patrick somehow does have a 500 lock, even though she's never even run a Sprint Cup race.
   Something might seem a bit askew.
   Bayne, the quite young and extremely photogenic and highly religious driver from Knoxville, Tennessee, who so surprised the racing world one year ago, is still working the market place. And listening between the lines, he sounds a bit frustrated.
   But then winning isn't everything in this sport. Just ask David Regan….or Darian Grubb.
   Will he make the field for the 500?
   Now the Woods, the men Bayne drives for, do build very fast cars for Daytona. It's been that way for years.
   Still…when was the last time a Daytona 500 winner didn't make the field for the next year's race?
    "I think the Wood brothers have really fast cars in qualifying, so hopefully we don't have to worry about the (Thursday qualifying) duels," Bayne says. 
    "It's going to be a lot of pressure if we have to race into it.  Hopefully we'll just qualify on Sunday and be good to go."

    Ford boss wrangler Jack Roush (R) and one of his newest projects, Trevor Bayne (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   With only limited sponsorship, Bayne again has a limited schedule of Cup races this season. "It's like one a month," he says.
   And Bayne's Nationwide game plan? Also only a limited schedule of races.
   "In Nationwide I had hoped to run a full season this year and run for a championship," Bayne says. "I still haven't spent a whole full season with one team yet in Nationwide.
    "Right now we're going to run the first three (Nationwide) races and see where we stand, and work on sponsorship deals. 
    "It just shows how tough it is right now.
    "As a young guy, experience is important, and it's crucial for me to be in the car as much as possible.
    "But I'm fortunate to be one of the guys in the sport that didn't bring money to the table, didn't have my own sponsorship, where my parents own a big business. So to have Roush Fenway fund me last year with no sponsorship was a big deal for them. 
    "It would be hard to expect them to fund a full Cup team this year, and two Nationwide teams.
     "I am a little disappointed because I want to be racing all the time. But I'm going to make the best of it."


     Trevor Bayne, soon to turn 21. Will he put the Woods' 21 in the 500 field? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Is perhaps part of Bayne's predicament related to those mysterious health issues that sidelined up for several weeks last year?
    "I had double-vision…so it's pretty serious when you're racing against 84 people out there," he says with a laugh.
   The diagnosis now: "It was Lyme Disease, from getting bit by a tick. My immune system went down and messed up my vision for a little bit.
    "But I'm 100 percent right now, and everything is good. I feel ready to go."

   The controversial two-car drafting helped Bayne win here a year ago. This time, though, he won't be so under the radar.
   "I was talking to Donnie Allison," Bayne says. "And he's like 'Everybody is freaking out about this two-car drafting. They don't realize we were doing this 30 years ago on the old surface.'
   "I forget who it was who was leading the race and acted like they blew up their motor so they could pull down and get behind the guy so they could win.  I don't remember which driver did that, but I was hearing stories about how they were racing back then the same exact way we're racing right now."
   Uh, Trevor, would that be David Pearson, in the 1974 summer 400 here that you're talking about? Pearson, driving then for the Wood brothers….
   But then Bayne wasn't born until 1991.

    The new limited-radio rules this season could well change the dynamic of the 500 for many drivers. But Bayne points out that last year Bobby Labonte, the man who helped him in the final miles didn't have radio communication with him.
    "On that last restart we were just going on faith that we were working together and that it would work out, and it worked out good," Bayne says.
   "So I like 'every man for himself.'
    "But you have to work together.  Hopefully I'm not the guy who gets used up."
    Last fall at Talladega, remember the controversy when Bayne was pushing Jeff Gordon on the final restart, and they'd agreed to draft together, with the win on the line….and then Bayne suddenly backed off, leaving Gordon alone.  Bayne complained at that time about 'team orders,' which did seem to be an issue for several teams.
    Last year here Bayne was an unknown, so when he pulled off the stunning win, well, it was a wild surprise.
    "It's hard to follow up, you know?" he says dryly.
    "It was crazy, because last year when I came here I was so under the radar.  I didn't expect any of this.  I just came in as a guy that had been running Nationwide and had a great opportunity to run with an awesome team.
   "Then we win the thing. 
    "I'm driving out and I remember seeing '21' at the top of the board, and the crazy feeling that was.
    "But I don't think it even sunk in.
    "The whole victory lane thing, I'm just bouncing around…and the next day I'm on the plane and I look down and I see that ring and I almost teared up."


    Last year it was TrevorMania. This year Trevor Bayne is still a mystery to some (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Bayne, naturally, has been a key part of NASCAR's Daytona 500 marketing, in New York on a media tour. "Like 23 interviews in one day. So I'm getting pretty good at making up new answers.
    "I was going to buy a new laptop, and then I was on the George Lopez Show and I said 'Man, I've got to get a new laptop.' And he says 'What's your address?  I'll send you one.'  That was pretty cool."
    A year ago in New York Bayne got the full treatment too. "When it was the craziest for me was like the second day after the 500 -- Here I am, just a kid who has no idea what's going to happen. I'm on the phone with vice-president Joe Biden.  I talked to Tim Tebow.  I met Pamela Anderson; she said I looked like her son. And I met Ellen DeGeneris and George Lopez all on the same day.
   "I'm like 'What just happened?'"

   Bayne is certainly well traveled, for a guy who will just turn 21 next Sunday. And he just got back from a ministry trip to Kenya (though some might wonder why, after last summer's lengthy illness and recovery, the boss might let a prize driver like that head off to someplace where malaria can be epidemic).
   It was certainly an adventure: "You wake up at five in the morning, because the mosques are blaring prayers. About eight we'd go out and start hanging out with the kids, and do ministry stuff all day. Around seven or eight you'd wrap it up and maybe go hit up the little village market.
   "We went on a safari one day, incredible.  I saw everything -- every animal you see on National Geographic."

   Another chapter in the incredible life of one Trevor Bayne.
   But when will he get the deal that puts him in a car, any car, full time?
   Might rival teams be interested in him?
   "I'm locked into Roush, and they can put me wherever," Bayne says. "And they have a good relationship with the Woods.
   "It's cool to have that opportunity (to run Cup with the Woods), because I could be running Nationwide for Roush and nothing else. But they saw that in me and put me in the Wood brothers' car. And they believe in me; it's almost like being a part of the family there. 
    "For this point in my career the Wood brothers is the best place for me to be.
    "If we could run full-time, that would be better. But I enjoy that family and just the support that they give me."
    Yes, maybe so. And there is the Joey Logano situation to consider too – it may be good not to push a newcomer too fast in this sport.
    Still, bottom line -- even now, a full year later, Trevor Bayne is still a mystery.
    And maybe still having to try to prove himself….

 Trevor Bayne: still looking to prove himself? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mike, Great story. I'm glad

Mike, Great story. I'm glad the press is finally waking up to this story. Danica is locked in and Bayne isn't??? If he doesn't make the field Nascar should be ashamed. This top 35, points swapping BS is out of hand when old washed up drivers like Martin can get a spot as well as someone who has never driven in a Cup race before can get a spot but last year's winner is hoping some dumbass doesn't clip him in a qualifying race!

Thanks. Still wondering why

Thanks. Still wondering why everyone here is gaga over the General Lee story and ignoring Trevor Bayne. but then the NASCAR media corps just isnt what it used to be. where are all the other pit bulls? lol

And while I'm at it, why

And while I'm at it, why isn't anyone in the NASCAR media corps looking at the Regan Smith Shootout story too -- nine guys in the Shootout didn't win last season, but Regan won at Darlington, yet still misses the Shootout cut because of whatever tricked up rules they're using this year. The top-25? Okay, well, Regan finished 26th overall last year, yes, but the two Red Bull teams that finished higher than him aren't even around this year. NASCAR could easily have let Regan in the Shootout. Wonder why they didn't? Bad move IMHO.

I've always maintained that

I've always maintained that since it's a character driven sport via a drivers championship that if you're going to have guaranteed starting positions it should be for the drivers not the car owners--after all no fan comes to see the owners, they root for the drivers. At the very least - since so much emphasis is placed on it - the Chase drivers and the winners of races should not have to worry about qualifying for races and then after that the rest of the field filters down to the top 20 points finishers and after that it's an open to who ever qualifies...

This sure would solve Trevor Bayne's problems and might open up the races for new blood.

Sounds sooo logical. until

Sounds sooo logical. until you factor in Talladega 1969, when Big Bill France responded to the massive driver walkout by adding all sorts of contracts and plans to the sport, to guarantee that would never happen again. but that was then and this is now, and the world has changed. nascar doesnt need all these plans and deals anymore, because sponsors rule the roost. what team owner would dare walk out on a race if that meant sponsorship cancellation. nascar needs to update this whole points thing -- one championship, not a driver championship and owner championship. of course that might invoke the carl kiekhaefer rule....from way back in the 1950s. nascar, you see, is sort of like the fire department -- each rule follows a specific incident. in fact it would be nice to have an annotated nascar rule book, which refers each paragraph back to the first offending characters....
all that aside, still not fully understanding this trevor bayne situation. here this week, however, the easiest solution would be a rule that said the previous year's daytona 500 winner gets an automatic entry in the following year's 500. just be sure to annotate it when it's in the rulebook next year lol.

I have been covering NASCAR

I have been covering NASCAR for a number of years now, and I was taken back with your article. Roush/Fenway is a family, a big, strong, dedicated family. I photograph Jack with Matt's children just prior to a race; never published these types of photos, too personel, and Jack is a caring grandfather who really mellows around the children.
The problem does not lay with the teams; it's NASCAR. it's too big, too costly, and too demanding. The COT is a failure; it costs as much or more than the previous cars. It was put into place to lower the costs, and it failed terribly in cost and on the track.
NASCAR has been taking the races, the drivers, and the fun away from the fans for years now.
NASCAR needs to re-evaluate how it got here, and how it hopes to stay here.
If the drivers and owners ever unite and stand up against how they are used, it will spell the end for NASCAR and what it could be.
As of now it's like a dictatorship, and the peasants are getting restless.
Too much money have caused the drivers to be spread too thin, and they can not get back to the very people who love them and it's the fans.
Long gone are the days when after a race the drivers stayed and greeted the fans on the front stretch; long gone are the days when the fans felt like they drive what their driver wins in; and long gone are the fans, if the dictator does not wake up and stop fleecing them with higher and higher prices, with little or nothing to show for the $500 to $700 for weekend of racing at a NASCAR event.
I think Jack has to keep his family intact, and if that means multiple sponsors for a very long season, then so be it. As always in the American way it comes down to Dollars and Cents. To run week in and week out, you need the Dollars; to want to do it, makes No Cents!

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