By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The inside lane kept Trevor Bayne from earning his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series top-10 finish this season. The Roush Fenway Racing driver ran what was arguably his best race since being pulled out of the car for a handful of races.
Over the last half of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, Bayne’s No. 6 AdvoCare Rehydrate Ford Fusion battled with Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher, and Jimmie Johnson, for seventh and eighth. When Johnson pitted under the final caution, Bayne ended up restarting in the inside lane, instead of the preferred outside lane.
On the final restart with 13 laps to go, when the inside lane failed to move, Bayne dropped from seventh to 11th. He tried to cross over Johnson, and lost ground to Kevin Harvick in the process. Bayne remained in 11th until the checkered flag.
Bayne had to avoid a lap two melee that wiped out involved 13 cars, ending the night for five of them. After that, it was smooth sailing as he picked his way through the field. Bayne didn’t break into the top-10 until after the end of the second stage. He stayed on the lead lap throughout the entire race.
“I would have loved to have a top-10,” Bayne admitted. “It just came down to which lane you were going to restart in. When Jimmie (Johnson) pitted, it put us on the bottom, and I was like, ‘dang it!’ I could have had a top-five there, but all-in-all it was a good day for our guys. Just too tight. Jack (Roush) asked me in the drivers meeting how my car was, and I thought it was a 10th-place car. I thought if we could get it to turn, then we would be better. Always fun to race at Bristol.”
The 11th-place finish is the best result of the season for Bayne. It is also just his second lead lap finish of the season. Prior to the race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Bayne’s best finish was at Auto Club, and his only lead lap finish was at Richmond.
“Every weekend when I leave, I just evaluate my performance,” Bayne explained. “I do everything I can do whether that’s 25thor 11th. I check the box and say I did everything I can do. Today I probably could have held Harvick off, if I didn’t try to cross Jimmie over. I’m a little bit frustrated that I didn’t do enough to get a top-10. You’ve just got to give everything that you’ve got every weekend and not worry about the results.”