Trevor Bayne on his limited racing opportunities: “We’re only here to win”

Trevor Bayne

If you think you have had some hectic days, you might need to check with Trevor Bayne and let him tell you about this last Thursday and Friday. Within a 24-hour time period the 32-year-old driver from Knoxville, Tennessee was in a maternity unit witnessing the birth of his fifth child then running 300 laps in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the high banks of the Bristol Motor Speedway.

It was a wild series of events for the former Daytona 500 winner making only his second NASCAR start of the 2023 season for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It has, it’s been real wild,” Bayne confirmed to “I’m wiped out right now, that’s for sure, after being up all night having a new baby last night then coming here running a bunch of laps at Bristol trying to get after it. I don’t know if I’ve been this tired in quite a while.”

After taking the initial green flag for the Food City 300 from the outside of the sixth row, Bayne steered the No. 19 Toyota through a steady progression well into the top-10 during the race’s first stage. As the race wore on, however, that momentum slowed as teams adopted differing tire strategies. Ultimately, a solid seventh place finish would be the end result for the No. 19 Toyota.

“The first half we were really good then once the track took rubber we got really tight,” Bayne explained. “The track tightened up all night long and we tried to get ahead of it but as we freed up the car it just lost forward drive and didn’t have the turn in the center that I needed. I couldn’t run the bottom as well as I wanted to in the second half. I could in the first half then it just kind of went away on me.”

Friday’s race was the second of what will be just three starts this season for Bayne with JGR. He finished 29th at Daytona after leading 26 laps before being involved in a crash. He will finish out his three-race set this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway where he won an Xfinity Series event back in 2011.

Trevor Bayne in the No. 19 JGR Toyota

With so few races on his schedule, Bayne has just one goal in mind.

“If you’re points racing,” he replied when asked about his top-10 run at BMS. “It’s not a bad night for us but we’re only here to win. Anything less than that feels a little disappointing. Normally when we show up I feel like we could win any week. We were just off a tick, not a ton, there were times when we were fast but we just needed more turn at the end of that race.”

A by-product of having only three chances to race is that there is so little time to bond with his team. This sport has shown time and again that the relationships between driver and crew make a big difference.  Although he and crew chief Jason Ratcliff have worked together previously(Bayne has made 11 starts for JGR since the beginning of 2022), there is at least some difficulty in finding the proper rhythm under such a schedule.

“The biggest thing that’s difficult is trying to have chemistry with the team, and we have great chemistry, but you don’t learn the things that you need to do for a specific driver if they’re not in the car every week. Jason has seven drivers he’s working with this year so it’s hard to hit the setup just right for every driving style, we’ve never raced at Bristol together and I’ve never been in a Gibbs car here. The more you work together the more notebooks you build and the faster you get. The fact that we contend and run up front every time we’re at the race track is good, but man, I want to win one so bad.”

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