In just his third race with Roush Fenway Racing since getting the boot from Michael Waltrip Racing, driver Trevor Bayne made his Ford Mustang debut in the Nationwide race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I like them,” Bayne said simply about the new Mustang. “They look cool, that’s for sure.”
Unfortunately, Bayne did not have quite the result that he would have wanted for his inaugural run in his new No. 17 Roush Fenway ride. The young driver finished in the 17th position after starting in the back of the field in 25th.
“I don’t think the finish really shows how we ran,” Bayne said. “That’s the sad thing for this team because we just had a bad qualifying run for some reason.”
“The car got really tight on us,” Bayne said of his qualifying run. “But we worked our way up toward the front and got up to 11th at one time and I think that’s about where we belonged.”
In one of the stranger twists of the Nationwide Dollar General 300, the cycle of pit stops played a significant role in the race finishing order. Several late race cautions and a strange resetting of the field due to an error made by NASCAR during a lug nut pit call also shook up the field.
“We had great pit stops that really helped us,” Bayne said. “But it cycled out funny when some of the guys stayed out on the green-flag stop. That put us back to about 17th and track position was just so big tonight that once we got in dirty air our car would lose all of its handling.”
Bayne attributed his not so stellar finish to his inability to fight his way forward to that dirty air, especially on the last restart with just a few laps to go in the race.
“We were just a victim of our car being in bad air,” Bayne said. “I think they did a great job with it. We’ll get this Ford Mustang there eventually.”
Bayne also confessed that his Mustang went from tight to very loose, especially as the track cooled. That loose condition was something that Bayne said he expected as it is characteristic of the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We kind of expected that,” Bayne said. “It really freed up and that’s a characteristic of this race track. We just didn’t know how much it would free up and it was a lot. I think we were definitely fighting free most of the night.”
Bayne also had a tussle on the track during the race with another young gun, Steven Wallace, who was behind the wheel of the No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota. Wallace’s car hit the wall, suffering severe damage and lead to a very disappointing 29th place finish.
“He started coming up and I gave him all the room I could possibly give him,” Bayne said of Wallace. “You can’t check up in those situations very much and I was just hoping he knew I was there.”
“We just barely touched, but it was enough to send him,” Bayne said. “I hate when stuff gets torn up but it was either his stuff torn up, or I could have hit the wall missing him, and I don’t want to tear up my stuff either.”
With his third race and his virgin Mustang run under his belt, Bayne continues to settle in at Roush Fenway Racing. Bayne is officially the 45th driver to take the wheel for the team, along with several other young guns in the stable with him.
“I knew there would be a learning curve as we got used to the team,” Bayne said. “But I’m excited about it.”
“I’m already feeling at home in this organization and that’s important,” Bayne said. “To have a long-term commitment from someone is one thing, but to feel like you belong there is another. I have both of those right now and that’s awesome.”
Bayne especially appreciates the history and winning ways of Roush Fenway. The youngster is especially enamored of his new team owner, Jack Roush.
“It’s really cool to be a part of an organization that already has a history like Roush Fenway,” Bayne said. “I know that winning is part of their blood. Hopefully, we can add to those win totals very soon.”
“Jack is awesome,” Bayne said. “I have never known an owner to be so involved; and involved is the key word here. It’s pretty incredible to see someone like that, who is as accomplished as Jack is. That is very impressive to me.”
The nineteen year old Bayne will drive for his team owner and hero in the Nationwide Series for the rest of the 2010 season. He is currently eighth in the Series point standings heading into the next race at Gateway on October 23rd.