Jul 20, 2014, 9:41 PM EDT
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.”
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Mar 31, 2015, 6:04 PM EDT
Off the Grid Mexico kicks off with episode one of a six-part digital series.
Mar 31, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
Jann Mardenborough and two spectators were released after this weekend’s VLN crash at the Nurburgring.
Mar 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Subaru’s Red Bull GRC challenger revealed.
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ESM recaps its test from the Prologue at Paul Ricard.
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IMS statement comes out after Indiana’s recent religious freedom legislation.
Mar 31, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
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Mar 31, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT
Rolling Stones to play at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
IndyCar’s “old guard” reigned in St. Petersburg, as the new manufacturer aero kits debuted.
Mar 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Chevrolet aero kits dominate on debut at St. Petersburg.
Mar 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT
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Mar 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Wolff defends the decision to fit Lewis Hamilton with hard tires at his final pit stop.
NHRA: Jack Beckman (54 races), Larry Morgan (120 races) snap lengthy winless streaks in 4-Wide Nationals
Mar 29, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) broke lengthy winless streaks in Sunday’s finals of the 4-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.
Mar 29, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT
The year-on-year evolution of JPM showcases a driver still getting even better.
Mar 29, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Will Power’s brother brings the jokes while live tweeting Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
- Off The Grid Mexico Kicks Off on NBCSports.com (VIDEO) 0
- Spectator injured but in stable condition after being hit by debris at St. Pete race 1
- Experience trumps youth on IndyCar’s opening weekend with aero kits 1
- NHRA: Jack Beckman (54 races), Larry Morgan (120 races) snap lengthy winless streaks in 4-Wide Nationals 2
- Montoya’s evolution evident after statement victory in St. Pete 2
- Montoya ekes out win in St. Petersburg season opener 6
- Emotional Vettel revels in first victory for Ferrari 5