Trevor Bayne understands what it takes to race with the Sprint Cup big boys. He also understands that while racing at the top NASCAR rung can be fun, it’s also a business.
He acknowledges pressure, admits to the many ups and downs that challenge young drivers and copes with an uncertain future, even with a Daytona 500 victory on his resume.
“It can be stressful,” Bayne said from his shop in Concord, N.C. “Livelihoods are on the line at the top level. It’s a job, a way of life for a lot of people. It’s how people pay the bills. But you still have to remember, we’re driving race cars for a living. We’re not saving the world. We’re racing. We forget that sometimes.”
Bayne gets all of this, and it’s why he will make his first trip to Maine next weekend for the 39th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.
The youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500, Bayne, 21, said he will travel north to travel back in time.
“This race will bring me back to my roots,” he said. “I’m so pumped. I don’t get to do too much short-track stuff anymore. I have no real Late Model experience. I know it’s going to be a real learning curve for me. But for me, it’s going to be so much fun to race when it’s not just your job.
“It gets to the point where it can be stressful at the top level. But if you run good or you run bad, you won’t have to live it through all week. I’ve never been to Maine before but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champ, races a limited Sprint Cup and Nationwide schedule. He drives for Roush Fenway Racing but only on a part-time basis. Despite winning one of NASCAR’s premier races, Bayne is biding his time with Roush.
The organization has already announced that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will fill the seat of Matt Kenseth, who is leaving Roush after 14 years. Despite being passed over for the Sprint Cup ride, Bayne said he could slide into Stenhouse’s ride on the Nationwide Series next season.
For now, Bayne is concentrating on finishing the year strong — he has one Nationwide and eight Sprint Cup races left on his schedule.
“I wish we had a full-time ride but we had to take a step back,” he said. “Next year, hopefully, I can go full time. It’s hard because I want to race. I’m under contract with Roush Fenway and I just have to be patient. But as a young driver, it can be hard to be patient sometimes. I just love to race. It’s all I want to do.”
Bayne will be the latest in a long line of NASCAR drivers to race the 250.
Since 2004, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Ricky Craven, Denny Hamlin, Terry Labonte, Kevin Harvick, J.J. Yeley and Brad Keselowski have raced at Oxford Plains. Kyle Busch won the 250 last year and Harvick took the checkered flag in 2008.
“I’m going up there to be competitive,” Bayne said. “I don’t want to say it’s all for fun. When you come in from the top level, you don’t want to give the (local) drivers any bragging rights.”
Bayne, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, will drive a Late Model owned by Kendall Roberts of Barre, Vt. Roberts prepared Keselowski’s car for the 2010 race.
Bayne said he plans to arrive at Oxford for a practice session on July 21, the day before the 250.
“I can’t wait,” said Bayne.