Column By: DOMINIC KONARESKI / RPW – WEST HAVEN, CT – Trevor Bayne is only 29 years of age, and despite being a Daytona 500 winner, has not raced in the NASCAR Cup Series since 2018.
That’s when he was dropped by his team, Roush Fenway Racing, and became a free agent. Since then, he’s run a handful of NASCAR Truck Series events for Niece Motorsports.
The Knoxville, TN native was once one of the most talked about drivers in the garage. Now, it seems like he’s been forgotten.
In 2008, Bayne made his debut in what was then the Nationwide Series, the second tier series to Cup. The series would turn out to be the most successful for Bayne. Even though his last race was in 2016, he had two wins and seven poles and managed to finish in the top 10 over 70 times.
We have seen this many times. Drivers find most, if not all, their success in the lower tier series. Just being in the series for not even three full seasons, Trevor Bayne, at 19, would get his shot in the bigs.
Bayne was brought up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2010, driving for Wood Brothers Racing. He made his debut in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway where he finished 17th from a 28th starting position.
He would then drive for Wood Brothers during 2011 in a partial schedule. That’s where he would make history.
In just his second career start, Bayne won the Daytona 500. In turn, he became the youngest to ever to do so, capturing the crown jewel just one day after his 20th birthday.
The rest of the season featured many downs as he only finished in the top 20 five times after winning the 500.
In that year though, despite the poor finishes after the 500, it seemed that Bayne had the makings to become a hall of famer. He’d already done what some NASCAR greats were never able to accomplish.
There’s a saying that the good guy always finishes last. With Bayne, that saying seemed to become more of a reality. Since the 2011 Daytona 500, driving for both the Wood Brothers and Roush Fenway, he would go on to have 185 more starts in the Cup Series (187 starts total in career.) He was only able to get 15 top 10s (16 total) and a best points finish of 22nd. While disappointing, he achieved that in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
He was replaced by Matt Kenseth in the Roush #6 Ford for the 2018 AAA 500 at Texas…eight years after he made his debut at that very track.
Trevor Bayne still has time for a comeback if he chooses. He can go back to Cup, but with his recent Truck Series success, we may never see him in Cup again.
Some consider him a bust. Depending how you look at it, he might be. However, you could also say he was one of the best drivers who was never able to show his full potential.
I’ll leave that up for you to decide.