(workingonmyredneck file photo)
Despite the sudden stardom that thrust Trevor Bayne into becoming the darling of NASCAR, with his unlikely victory in the biggest race of the year for NASCAR, the Daytona 500, Bayne’s future is anything but certain. Nevertheless, one thing is very clear, the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 wants to race full time in the Sprint Cup series next year. As Bayne returns to the Daytona International Speedway this weekend, he acknowledges that he is keeping one eye on Carl Edwards’ impending free agency.
Edwards has been coy about his contract situation at Roush Fenway Racing and there has been speculation he could move to another team in 2012.
”I don’t know what he’s going to do, but obviously I love having him as a teammate,” Bayne said. ”I want him to stay. On the other hand, if he leaves, it’s an open seat.”
Just the kind of opportunity Bayne is looking for.
Bayne drives for Roush in the Nationwide Series and is running a part-time Cup schedule with the Roush-affiliated Wood Brothers team. If Bayne were to make a full-time move to Cup next year, Roush would be the natural place to do so.
But Bayne says nothing has been decided and he’s getting a little antsy.
”I just talked to my dad about it,” Bayne said during a break in the Nationwide Series race weekend at Road America. ”I was like, ‘Man, it’s about time for us to start talking about next year.’ And we haven’t yet at all. Hopefully that’ll be the next conversation that we have.”
On the track, Bayne is confident going into Daytona – if only because he knows other drivers will be more willing to work with him in the draft. Bayne doesn’t want to get cocky, because that’s not how he got to Victory Lane in February.
”I went in there with the mindset of just finish the thing, just go out and survive and whatever happens, I’ll be there at the end,” Bayne said. ”You’ve got to hold yourself back because if you go in there thinking ‘I’m going to win this thing,’ you might get in trouble trying to lead every lap or whatever. I think I’ve got to just go there and think, ‘All right, let’s just ride and wait until the end like last time and we’ll be all right.”’
Winning Daytona was an emotional high for Bayne, but it didn’t last long. He soon found himself in the Mayo Clinic being treated for what he now believes was Lyme disease.
”They treated me for Lyme disease,” Bayne said. ”Those kinds of things are hard to diagnose. They treated me for that and hopefully if that’s what it was, it’ll be fine.”
Bayne hopes he’s in the clear, but can’t be sure.
”You’re never in the clear,” he said. ”The first time it comes around, you don’t expect it, you feel great. I went hiking the day before and went jumping in waterfalls, and I wake up the next morning and I’m messed up. It could come back at any time. I don’t think it’s supposed to, but hopefully it doesn’t.”
After taking several weeks off, Bayne returned for the Nationwide race at Chicagoland but felt run down.
”Sitting in a hospital bed for that long will really put you down and I felt it,” Bayne said. ”I came back at Chicago and I was like, ‘Man, this is harder than I remember.’ I’ve really been trying to get back after it.”
If anything, winning Daytona and getting sick has taught Bayne how to deal with the highs and lows of a career in NASCAR.
”Now I kind of feel numb,” Bayne said. ”I was talking to somebody the other day, I’m like, ‘Well, dang, no matter what happens I’ll just feel numb because it doesn’t feel as high or as low as what I’ve been through.’ It’s tough to maintain that, but then again, I’m not really defined by that. It’s great to win a Daytona 500 and it stinks to get sick, but at the end of the day, racing’s what I do, it’s what I love to do, but it’s not everything I’m made of.”
Bayne has turned to fellow drivers for advice, including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
”He said, you’ve just got to stay hungry and stay after it,” Bayne said. ”And don’t think that you don’t have to work hard because you’re good. Because there’s somebody down the road that’s working harder than you are, they might be better than you are eventually if they keep doing that. So you’ve got to keep working harder than the next guy, and I think he does a good job with that.”
Bayne took Johnson’s message to heart.
Trevor Bayne is such a refreshing young man. He is the type of young man that every parent hopes that their children grows up like. He is honest, determined, and hard working at his profession. He has all the potential to become a very good race car driver, given the proper opportunities and equipment. Bayne did strike gold in his first opportunity. Can he now capitalize on, and ride the crest of, this new found stardom?
The question begs to be asked, “Could Trevor Bayne repeat his feat and pull off a victory in the Coke Zero 400 Saturday evening?
What are your thoughts?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!