By admin | August 24, 2012
By Richard Allen
Trevor Bayne has been bitten hard by the dirt late model racing bug. After a test session about a month ago at the Smoky Mountain Speedway, the Knoxville native has enrolled himself in a high speed course to learn the previously untried form of racing.
On Thursday night, Bayne showed that he is not out to â€œcherry pickâ€ against weak fields. He entered the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. Top dirt drivers such as Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, Don Oâ€™Neal, Steve Francis and Earl Pearson, Jr. compete regularly in that series. Just making the field for a LOLMDS race would be an accomplishment, especially for a driver who has never raced competitively in a super late model machine.
Bayne is taking his effort in this form of racing seriously, as is evidenced by the people he has gone to for assistance. On Monday night he tested at the Volunteer Speedway with five time track champion and former Richard Childress Racing engine builder Vic Hill there to offer advice.
Also, Bayne has enlisted one of the greatest drivers ever to serve as somewhat of a mentor. National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame driver Ronnie Johnson has been working with the 2011 Daytona 500 champion and was on hand on Thursday to guide the eager student.
Unfortunately, the caliber of competition and the young driverâ€™s inexperience were too much to overcome. Bayne was 13th out of 18 drivers in Group A qualifying with a lap of 12.704 seconds around the high banked clay oval. That compared to Bloomquistâ€™s fast time of 12.182 seconds.
The top-4 from each of the four heat races were to transfer to the feature race with all others moving to a last chance B-main race. Bayne raced at pace with the other cars in his heat but was only able to finish 6th in that preliminary event.
It was in the B-main race where things went completely wrong. On the initial start, Bayne appeared to push his new MasterSbilt Race Car just a bit harder than he had before. The #21 spun in turn two and left nowhere for Ryan King to go. The two cars came together with Bayneâ€™s machine taking the worst of it. The NASCAR star was done for the evening as the damage was too much to overcome.
Billy Ogle, Jr. eventually won a very exciting race over Scott Bloomquist. But as far as Bayne was concerned, he gained a great deal of experience. He declared after his first limited late model start two weeks ago at Smoky Mountain Speedway that every lap he runs makes a big difference and he got to run laps against the best in the business on a tough racetrack.
Donâ€™t look for one disappointing run to damper Trevor Bayneâ€™s enthusiasm for dirt late model racing. As one Roush Yates Engines employee said, â€œHeâ€™s been in our shop a lot and heâ€™s giddy as a little kid about getting to do this.â€
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