Trevor Bayne’s hopes of duplicating his Daytona 500 performance in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway didn’t work out as planned, but he and his No. 21 Good Sam Ford Fusion proved they were capable of victory.
Because the race was an impound event, Bayne had to give up his 11th starting position and start in the rear after his team made an adjustment to his brakes after qualifying. But he hooked up with fellow Ford driver Greg Biffle and drove the No. 21 Ford Fusion straight to the front.
Bayne, using the two-car tandem draft, pushed Biffle into the lead for the first time on Lap 25. The two swapped places and Bayne led for the first time at Lap 33. He then passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Lap 35 and maintained the top spot for three laps, and led again on Lap 37.
He and Biffle remained in the lead group until Lap 90 when Bayne was collected in a multi-car crash in Turn Three. Bayne, seeing the trouble ahead, slowed and drove onto the track’s apron in an effort to avoid the crash, but he was hooked by the spinning car of David Ragan, and the Good Sam Ford Fusion shot up the track and into the wall, ending the team’s run.
“That was one of the harder hits I’ve taken, just because it was so much of a frontal impact across the track, off the apron, all the way to the wall,” Bayne said after being checked out at Talladega’s infield care center.
Bayne, who wound up 40th in the finishing order, went on to say that he knew there was trouble ahead just before the crash, and radioed a warning to Biffle, who backed off immediately. But that wasn’t enough to salvage the day.
“I just saw the 2 [Brad Keselowski] get hooked at the same time the 6 [David Ragan] was on fire,” Bayne said. “He goes across the track, I saw him hit the outside wall, but then I don’t know who caught us in the right-rear and sent us.
“But I thought we were safe. I was like, ‘Man, that was close,’ and about the time I said that I was headed toward the outside wall, so not a fun ride.”
He said his car was every bit as good as it looked to those watching it up front and leading at Talladega.
“It really was,” he said. “I was excited about it, because anytime Greg and I wanted to go; we would go right to the front. We led some laps there. We hung out in the back when we wanted to.
“I thought we were kind of out of harm’s way there, but, obviously, we weren’t far enough back out of it.”
Bayne and the Wood Brothers team, who have planned a limited Sprint Cup schedule this year, will skip the next three Sprint Cup races and return to the track on May 21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race with sponsorship from the Good Sam Club. Bayne and the Woods are guaranteed a starting spot in the All-Star race because of their victory in the season-opening Daytona 500.