Skip to content

Runner-up finish at Chicago could be start of turnaround for Trevor Bayne

Jul 20, 2014, 9:41 PM EDT

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

JOLIET, Ill. — Saturday’s runner-up finish in the EnjoyIllinois.com 300 Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway may very well be a turning point for Trevor Bayne in the 2014 season.

His run tied a season-best showing (second at Dover), left him in sixth-place in the standings, just 50 points behind with 15 more races to go.

And if Bayne can continue his momentum this coming weekend at Indianapolis, his hopes for a Nationwide championship in his final year in the series could potentially come true.

Bayne ran a strong race, finishing second to NNS rookie and new points leader Chase Elliott, who won his third event of the season. Elliott’s margin of victory was 1.7 seconds over Bayne’s Ford.

“The last two runs of the race, we had a car that could win it,” Bayne told MotorSportsTalk. “That’s as competitive as we’ve been all year long and ties our best finish of the season at Dover.

“I felt like we had a better chance in this race than at Dover. … We ended up coming home second, just short, which is a little bittersweet, but we’ll take the sweet part because it’s just nice to be in contention in these things and have cars that are capable of winning races. If we can do that week in and week out, we’ll be there.”

In 18 starts this season, Bayne has three top-fives and 13 top-10s. He’s also had two DNFs.

But Saturday’s run brought out a new kind of confidence that even though Bayne characterizes the first part of this season as having been a struggle, there’s no reason why the second half of the season has to be the same.

“(If there had been) 10 or 15 (more) laps, I think we might have had something for them,” Bayne said. “We’re pretty happy with our run there and I was pumped to just be able to see the leader there and be making gains at him.

“This season has been a struggle for us overall. It’s nice to just have some speed here at a mile-and-a-half, track and there’s a lot of mile-and-a-halfs that are the same, so we’re hoping that carries on through the rest of the season for our Advocare Mustang.

“I’m hoping this run at Chicago can give us that momentum and knowledge we’ve been looking for. … We’ve made a lot of changes to our cars to make them all season long and we finally seemed to make some gains Saturday night.

“When you go to Chicago, you want to think you’ve learned something there that you can take to places like Atlanta, Kentucky and Charlotte, places like that and do real well at.”

Next up for Bayne is the legendary 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Having already won NASCAR’s biggest race, the Daytona 500, Bayne would love to win either the NNS or Sprint Cup event at Indy.

“Indy is one of the most overwhelming tracks you can go inside as a driver,” Bayne said. “You look down the frontstretch, it looks like a tunnel going down into Turn 1 and all of a sudden it’s just a 90-degree left without any banking, and you start second-guessing yourself if this thing is going to stick.

“We look forward to going there because we think we can run real well there, especially with the experience we have.”

And a trophy from Indy – be it NNS or Sprint Cup – would find a welcome home next to his Daytona 500 trophy.

“We’d like to add any trophy, so we’ll take them anywhere we can get ‘em,” Bayne said with a laugh. “Indy is a really special place and I think it’s close to Daytona, if not tied with it, as far as motorsports is concerned.

“Indy has as much or more history than any track we go to, and to win any kind of race there, whether it’s Nationwide or Cup, winning the Brickyard 400 would be a huge deal, but winning the Nationwide race would also be great. To have a chance there, it’d be awesome to come down to the finish and see what we’ve got, sailing into Turn 4 for the last time for a battle. We look forward to going there and think we can run well there.”

Bayne has plenty of incentive to win at Indy, but there’s a bit more added this time: he’s one of four drivers who will be in contention for the Nationwide Dash-4-Cash promotion, where the highest finisher of the four drivers will take home a cool $100,000.

Bayne saw Brian Scott do just that Saturday night at Chicagoland, finishing sixth, the best of the four drivers chosen for that event.

Where Bayne goes from there remains to be seen. But if the feeling he has after Chicagoland is any indication, a turnaround is definitely on his mind.

“We’ve been consistent all year long,” Bayne said. “We had a couple races where we weren’t consistent. We got tangled up in the rain (at Road America) and got taken out at Michigan. Those were tough races for us to swallow because that’s what gave us that deficit in points.

“It’s a long season still ahead of us. There’s still two road courses left, we’ve got Bristol, some other short tracks like Richmond coming up where those guys can have bad days.

“We can have bad days, too, but we’ll just try to avoid those. Hopefully, those are between us and we can capitalize on some points.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Gene Haas on entering Formula 1 in 2016

    Nov 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    NBCSN’s Steve Matchett chats with Gene Haas about his plans for joining the Formula 1 circus in 2016.

  2. NHRA: John Force rolls to No. 1 Funny Car qualifier in first race without former crew chief Jimmy Prock

    Nov 1, 2014, 12:23 AM EDT

    (AP Photo/NHRA, Marc Gewertz) AP

    In his first race without crew chief Jimmy Prock, defending Funny Car champ John Force didn’t appear worse for the wear, grabbing the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.

  3. Kyle Busch roars back to win Truck race at Texas; Matt Crafton gets closer to clinching championship

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT

    (Sean Gardner/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway) Getty Images

    Kyle Busch rallied from ninth place with five laps left in regulation time, then roared up through the pack and “set sail” to a green-white-checker victory in the Truck Series race Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

  4. NHRA: John Force to announce new sponsor Saturday, new manufacturer Tuesday

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    (Jason Merritt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force will make a major sponsorship announcement Saturday in Las Vegas, and is expected to follow that up Tuesday with what major auto manufacturer he’ll be aligned with in 2015.

  5. Matt Kenseth still remorseful over Martinsville wreck with Kevin Harvick (UPDATED)

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Kenseth says the only way he’d feel a little better about it is if Harvick manages to make the Championship Race.

  6. Tony Stewart sets fastest qualifying speed ever on 1.5-mile track (200.111 mph), but Matt Kenseth wins pole at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT

    (FILE: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Matt Kenseth won the pole Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, but Tony Stewart lived up to his nickname and smoked the field with the fastest qualifying speed ever on a 1.5-mile track.

  7. United States GP Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Oct 31, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Sebastian Vettel AP

    Complete with news and analysis, here is all of the action from the COTA paddock on practice day for the United States Grand Prix.

  8. Rossi: American support will get me to F1 (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Practice Getty Images

    Speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton, America’s great F1 hopeful speaks about recent events at Marussia and his hopes for the future.

  9. Austin FP2: View from the ground

    Oct 31, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    COTAwide AP

    An on-the-ground perspective of the speed, sound and crowd from Austin second practice.

  10. Racing legend Dan Gurney earns one of rarest and most prestigious awards for lifetime achievements (video)

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    (Courtesy The Henry Ford) (Courtesy The Henry Ford)

    Very few race car drivers deserve to be called “legendary.” Dan Gurney is most definitely one of those, and was honored this week with the Edison-Ford Medal for his incomparable lifetime achievements.

  11. Verstappen impressive once again in second F1 run-out

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-US-PRACTICE Getty Images

    17-year-old Toro Rosso driver continues to prove that age is simply a number in racing.

  12. Austin Dillon hasn’t forgotten how to wheel an NNS car, is fastest in final practice at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT

    (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway) Getty Images

    Austin Dillon was the fastest driver in Friday’s final Nationwide Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway. The defending NNS champ who is now in his rookie season in Sprint Cup, Dillon is making his first NNS start this season in Saturday’s race.

  13. Kurt Busch is acting a little (candy) corny this Halloween (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    (Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Outlaw attempts the “Candy Corn Challenge” – fitting 100 pieces inside his mouth.

  14. Alonso’s ambition continues to leave the Formula 1 paddock guessing

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Fernando Alonso AP

    Is there more to Fernando’s future than just McLaren?

  15. Caterham administrators in talks with possible new buyers

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Italy - Practice Getty Images

    Administrators still hoping to get the team racing in Abu Dhabi, but will aim for the grid in 2015 if this is not possible.

  16. Tyler Reddick picks up Texas pole for tonight’s NASCAR Trucks race

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 - Practice Getty Images

    Reddick captures his second Truck pole in the last three races.

  17. Hamilton inches away from Rosberg to top FP2 at COTA

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:32 PM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    British driver finishes just 0.003 seconds ahead of Rosberg in FP2, equating to just 6.7 inches around the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

  18. Seeing red: Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy gets a new look for Texas (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 - Practice Getty Images

    The six-time Sprint Cup champion is driving the No. 48 Lowe’s “Red Vest” Chevrolet this weekend.

  19. Raikkonen: Return to Ferrari “100 percent the right decision”

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    Finnish driver has endured a difficult return to Maranello in 2014 after five years away.

Video from NASCAR America

Who has the best chance in Texas?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Logano (1192)
  2. K. Harvick (1180)
  3. J. Johnson (1132)
  4. K. Busch (964)
  5. M. Kenseth (885)