By admin | February 15, 2013
By Richard Allen
In February of 2011, Trevor Bayne was on top of the world. The driver who had just turned 20 years old had shocked the racing world when he drove the historic No. 21 Ford to victory in the Daytona 500 for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team. While the young driver had always believed in himself and his abilities, even he was not fully prepared for what had just happened.“Are you kidding me!” Bayne exclaimed over his team radio after crossing the finish line ahead of the pack in ‘The Great American Race’.
But the moment was indeed real. And to his surprise, the whirlwind was only about to begin for Bayne.
“I never really expected it to happen but it was always in the back of my mind, you know, ‘what if’,” the native of Knoxville, Tenn. said of his unlikely victory in an interview shown on NASCAR.com. “I didn’t have any clothes packed. I didn’t have any preparation for the media tour we were about to go on for the next three weeks. It was pretty unbelievable.”
At such a young age, Bayne realizes the significance of what he and his team accomplished that day. Still, he hopes there will be more checkered flags in his future.
“There may not be another race I win that will be as big,” he declared. ”But to me, it’s kind of a beginning.”
It seemed in February of 2011 as if a golden path had been laid at his feet and nothing could go wrong. However, just four months after that seemingly career-making triumph, Bayne was thrust into harsh reality when he found himself sickened with a mysterious ailment and in a hospital bed.
“I knew that God had put me there for a purpose,” he said of his stay in the Mayo Clinic during May of 2011. “It was the first time that I wasn’t able to race when I actually had the opportunity to race. Watching the race go on and my car was out there with somebody else driving it really put it into perspective for me.”
The illness was finally diagnosed as Lyme Disease and it kept him out of a race car for two months. And while he had been weakened, Bayne was able to recover and eventually come storming back near the end of the 2011 season. As a matter of fact, he found victory lane another time that year when he won a Nationwide Series event in dramatic fashion at the Texas Motor Speedway.
“The win at Texas, that was a game-changer for me in the Nationwide Series,” Bayne recalled. “At the end, we were 4th on a green/white/checkered and we had to go take it from Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin and some really awesome drivers. That showed that we have a place here.”
But even with all his success, Bayne found out the hard way that NASCAR racing can turn the highest of highs into the lowest of lows very quickly. No major sponsor was found to fund a full time ride in either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series for 2012. Instead, he had only a partial schedule set with the Wood Brothers in Sprint Cup and a few races at the beginning of the season with Roush Fenway Racing in Nationwide.
“I wasn’t just going into 2012 blind,” Bayne said. ”I wasn’t thinking we would just go run a few races and hope for the best, but we kind of did that at the beginning of the year because we ran five races and we were 4th in points(RFR Nationwide). Then we ran out of funding and weren’t able to keep going, and that’s when it got hard.
“The first race at Texas, I showed up and I’m on pit road and I watched them take the green flag and that sick feeling went to my stomach because it wasn’t real before that,” Bayne further explained. ”At that point I realized ‘OK, this is where I’m supposed to be. This is what God has for me. I don’t know what his plans are. I can’t imagine what they are. I don’t know if they’re better or worse than what I want.’”
That faith has brought him to this point. Bayne is now set to run a full Nationwide Series schedule for the same Roush Fenway Racing team that Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has won the last two consecutive championships with. He will also continue to compete on a part-time basis for the Wood Brothers at the Sprint Cup level.
“Going into 2013, I’ve been looking forward to this for over a year now and so it really motivates me,” he said. “I’m fired up and as ready as ever.
“It’s humbling to be a part of that team that’s already won two championships,” Bayne added. ”It’s not like we’re just piecing a team together to go run for a championship. I’ve got the best team. The team that’s already done it two times.”
Crew chief Mike Kelley had been given to option by RFR to rise to the Cup level with Stenhouse as that driver plans to race for Rookie of the Year honors in the No. 17 Ford. However, the pit boss chose to stay at the Nationwide level and direct that effort for Bayne.
Finally, it seems as if everything has fallen into place for this driver. After a serious illness threatened to end his carer and a disappointing 2012 did not provide much hope, the former Daytona 500 winner is about to embark on a new beginning this season.
In the Book of Proverbs 3:5-6, The Bible directs us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Trevor Bayne appears to be living proof that this verse holds absolute truth.
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