Sports

Lack of sponsorship leaves Trevor Bayne out of Nationwide race at Texas

Trevor Bayne shakes his head about the wonder of it all.

Not the Daytona 500 victory last year.

No, it's being unable to get sponsorship to race his Nationwide car at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

The NASCAR media star of 2011 has to leave his No. 60 Ford parked for Friday night's O'Reilly Auto Parts 300, and he can't even say how many more races he'll be able to run the rest of the year.

"It's a changing number. I'm not even sure right now," he said Tuesday.

What is certain is that sitting out of the race means he's giving up any real chance of competing for a Nationwide Series championship. He's in fourth place in the driver standings with three top-10 finishes, and none worse than 14th, a pace that has kept him close to series leaders Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

But no money means no race.

Ford EcoBoost sponsored him for three races. He had the Roush Fenway team's 25th anniversary logo on the hood for the first race. Two weeks ago, he had backing from yourracecar.com and Crawdads Classics.

Roush Fenway couldn't get anybody booked in time for this race.

"I hate that we're not running this weekend," Bayne said. "We can't get sponsorship. That's what's so hard. Reality sets in. You're not going to the track."

At TMS, Bayne would have had a chance to get closer to the top of the standings. He picked up his first career Nationwide victory here in November.

"But you can do two things," he said. "You can either get upset about it and focus on the things you don't have, or you can be excited about your Cup car, and that's what we have."

Bayne does have a Sprint Cup car. His No. 21 Ford, owned by the Wood Brothers, is entered in Saturday night's Mobile Samsung 500 Sprint Cup race. It's the car he drove to Victory Lane at the Daytona 500 in February 2011, making an overnight hit of the now-21-year-old from Knoxville, Tenn.

After that win last year, he ran a partial schedule in Sprint Cup and Nationwide as planned, hoping it would lead to secure full-time rides in both series this year.

But Saturday night will be only his third Cup race of the season, if he qualifies. He was 35th at Daytona to open the season and ninth at Las Vegas two weeks later.

"This past year has been a roller-coaster ride," he said. "We've been to the top, to the bottom and everywhere in between. It's been a good ride so far. There have been so many things I've had to learn as far as on the track, off the track, not get too wrapped up in the highs and lows. A lot more happened in this last year and a half than I could have ever scripted or imagined."

Bayne's victory at Daytona landed like a bombshell in NASCAR, handing a win to the well-respected, but underdog, Wood Brothers team.

But the Nationwide win at Fort Worth in November did more to solidify Bayne's status among his fellow NASCAR competitors. Daytona is a superspeedway, with wrecks and restrictor plates, which means anything can happen. Winning at TMS last year meant outdriving everybody else, including Cup regulars Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer.

"For Trevor, to be able to win the 500 was a really great thing," driver Matt Kenseth said in a television interview. "In another way, it was probably a bad thing because the expectations are really high. And Daytona's kind of a different race. I think for him to be able to win the Texas Nationwide race was probably as big or bigger for him personally as winning the Daytona 500. He had to go there and race Carl and race Kyle Busch and race all these guys. That was huge."

Bayne is ready to get in his Cup car. He was ninth with it at Las Vegas, a mile-and-a-half that is similar to Texas Motor Speedway.

"It's a great car. It had a lot of speed in it last time," he said. "It'll be tough to handle here this weekend."

So Bayne is optimistic. He can afford to remember he's only 21, just getting started, and already has a Daytona 500 victory and a Texas Nationwide victory.

"I always try to be optimistic," he said. "It's tough sometimes. It's tough to say everything's great when you're not racing. But you do try to stay positive. I know I'm exactly where I need to be. Just got to be ready to work through it."

Trevor Bayne at TMS

Sprint Cup

Race

St.

Fin.

Laps led

Nov. 2010

28

17

0

April 2011

18

17

0

Nov. 2011

13

17

0

Nationwide

Nov. 2009

11

13

0

April 2010

14

14

0

Nov. 2010

14

12

4

April 2011

6

13

0

Nov. 2011

10

1

6

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter @calexmendez

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