Bayne returns to Daytona
By Chris Jenkins
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. ó Despite the sudden stardom that came with his wild victory in NASCARís biggest race, Trevor Bayneís future is anything but settled.
This much is clear: The youngest-ever Daytona 500 winner wants to race full time in the Sprint Cup Series next season. And as he returns to Daytona International Speedway this weekend, Bayne acknowledges heís keeping an eye on Carl Edwardsí 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.
ěI donít know what heís going to do, but obviously I love having him as a teammate,î Bayne said. ěI want him to stay. On the other hand, if he leaves, itís an open seat.î
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 heís getting a little antsy.
ěI just talked to my dad about it,î Bayne said during a break in the Nationwide Series race weekend at Road America. ěI was like, ëMan, itís about time for us to start talking about next year.í And we havenít yet at all. Hopefully thatíll be the next conversation that we have.î
On the track, Bayne is confident going into Daytona ó if only because he knows other drivers will be more willing to work with him in the draft. Bayne doesnít want to get cocky, because thatís not how he got to victory lane in February.
ěI went in there with the mindset of just finish the thing, just go out and survive and whatever happens, Iíll be there at the end,î Bayne said. ěYouíve got to hold yourself back because if you go in there thinking ëIím going to win this thing,í you might get in trouble trying to lead every lap or whatever. I think Iíve got to just go there and think, ëAll right, letís just ride and wait until the end like last time and weíll be all right.íî
Winning Daytona was an emotional high for Bayne, but it didnít last long. He soon found himself in the Mayo Clinic being treated for what he now believes was Lyme disease.
ěThey treated me for Lyme disease,î Bayne said. ěThose kinds of things are hard to diagnose. They treated me for that and hopefully if thatís what it was, itíll be fine.î
Bayne hopes heís in the clear, but canít be sure.
ěYouíre never in the clear,î he said. ěThe first time it comes around, you donít expect it, you feel great. I went hiking the day before and went jumping in waterfalls, and I wake up the next morning and Iím messed up. It could come back at any time. I donít think itís supposed to, but hopefully it doesnít.î
After taking several weeks off, Bayne returned for the Nationwide race at Chicagoland but felt run down.
ěSitting in a hospital bed for that long will really put you down and I felt it,î Bayne said. ěI came back at Chicago and I was like, ëMan, this is harder than I remember.í Iíve really been trying to get back after it.î
If anything, winning Daytona and getting sick has taught Bayne how to deal with the highs and lows of a career in NASCAR.
ěNow I kind of feel numb,î Bayne said. ěI was talking to somebody the other day, Iím like, ëWell, dang, no matter what happens Iíll just feel numb because it doesnít feel as high or as low as what Iíve been through.í Itís tough to maintain that, but then again, Iím not really defined by that. Itís great to win a Daytona 500 and it stinks to get sick, but at the end of the day, racingís what I do, itís what I love to do, but itís not everything Iím made of.î
Bayne has turned to fellow drivers for advice, including five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.
ěHe said, youíve just got to stay hungry and stay after it,î Bayne said. ěAnd donít think that you donít have to work hard because youíre good. Because thereís somebody down the road thatís working harder than you are, they might be better than you are eventually if they keep doing that. So youíve got to keep working harder than the next guy, and I think he does a good job with that.î
Bayne took Johnsonís message to heart.
ěThatís a guy that gets up and runs like eight miles a day,î Bayne said. ěHeís not going to let somebody outwork him, thatís for sure.î
Bayne is thankful that veterans such as Johnson are willing to help him out, especially because he senses other drivers might resent his success.
ěItís not so much like the huge names, itís just some of the guys that are caught in the middle that are trying to get there,î Bayne said. ěI think those guys, theyíre kind of battling for that next ride, either theyíre in the Nationwide Series or just guys that have not won any races in Cup, those are the guys that will race me hardest.
ěThe Jeff Gordons, the Jimmie Johnsons, Kevin Harvicks, Tony Stewarts, those guys will pull over and let you by when youíre faster than they are. But these other guys, theyíre like, ëIíve got to beat this kid.íî