By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
A flat tire, contact with the wall, and lap traffic could not keep Trevor Bayne from reaching a career milestone with a top-10 finish. For the first time in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career, he earned top-10 finishes in back-to-back races. Bayne bounced up and down through the field in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
Bayne finished in seventh after an eventful second-half of the Bristol-night race. He had a hard-fought battle with Jimmie Johnson as he moved up through the field in the late stages of the race. Bayne ultimately prevailed in his battle for position with the seven-time Champion.
A flat tire sent Bayne’s No. 6 Tim Duerr EcoBoost Ford Fusion into the outside wall with just under 150 laps to go. At the same time, Ty Dillon had a flat tire and a harder impact elsewhere on the track. This allowed Bayne’s Matt Puccia-led crew to work on repairs under caution. Bayne then caught a timely caution and earned the free pass, placing him back on the lead lap.
Bayne felt that things are starting to turn around for his team,
“I feel like the last month we had strategy, things went our way and we’ve gotten results from it. Here at Bristol, Roush Fenway always gives us good cars and we’ve had really good runs the last four or five races. Our Ford was fast tonight at the end when it mattered. At one point we blew a tire, hit the fence. I thought we were going to get lucky and get back on the lead lap. Got on the lead lap, got a caution and put new tires on it and started passing cars. Jimmie (Johnson) had a pretty epic battle there for a minute.”
“We were able to get to seventh and pretty happy about that. We’ll keep working on it. Obviously we need to win. That’s what our goal is. Seventh is great but we have to get there. Really proud of these guys and the gains we’re making. Thanks to Advocare, Liberty National and Ford Performance. It’s been a rough time through the summer but we’re coming back now.”
This was the fourth top-10 finish of the 2017 season for Bayne, and the 14th of his career. He remains 19th in the points standings, 481 points behind leader Martin Truex, Jr., and 230 points behind Jamie McMurray, who holds the cutoff for the Playoffs. A win in the next two races is likely the only chance Bayne has of joining his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in the Playoffs.
Now Bayne, Puccia, and the entire Roush Fenway Racing team will look to try and secure a Playoff berth at Darlington Raceway.