Trevor Bayne last competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series during the 2016 season when he made one start at Watkins Glen International. He made his return at Auto Club Speedway on February 26 as part of a deal with Joe Gibbs Racing and encountered a considerably different style of competition.
“These guys are so racy,” Bayne said after finishing third overall, video courtesy of FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass. “They race so hard every lap, which is different than when I was in the Xfinity Series because I was racing Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, guys that would turn you if you raced them like that.”
The return to the Xfinity Series featured some big moments early as Bayne “shook off the rust” in the No. 18. He posted the fourth-fastest time in qualifying and began his day on the second row. He made his move to the front of the pack and captured the Stage 1 win.
Bayne had a fast car that could have kept him in contention for the win, but his crew had some slow pit stops that dropped him outside of the top 10. Though he was ultimately able to recover and finish third overall in his first start since 2016.
He just couldn’t track down Cole Custer and the No. 07 SS GreenLight Racing Ford Mustang.
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Bayne Has an Opportunity to Reignite His Career
The 2011 Daytona 500 champion is back in NASCAR for the first time since 2018, and he will make seven total starts for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series. Bayne does not know if this will lead to more opportunities in the future, but he will set out to win multiple races in the No. 18.
“This honestly feels like another dream,” Bayne told FOX Sports’ Shannon Spake during a sit-down interview ahead of the Xfinity Series race. “It’s almost like my first shot all over again. This is Joe Gibbs Racing. This is the 18 car. I’ve gotta win. In my seven races, my goal is to win at least five of those.
“I don’t really know where it goes from here,” Bayne continued. “I’ve got seven chances to maybe restart a career or maybe just have a great time driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.”
There will be two major factors that determine whether Bayne makes a return to one of the national series. His performance among the track will be chief among them. The other factor will be sponsorship. He will have support from Devotion Nutrition for the seven races in the No. 18, but would the company or another join him for a full-time run? That answer remains unknown.
Bayne’s Remaining Schedule Includes a Memorial Day Weekend Race
Now that Bayne has completed his first race back in the Xfinity Series, he will move forward with the remaining races on his schedule. He will take on six other ovals, including Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend.
Bayne will return to the No. 18 Toyota at Phoenix Raceway (March 12), Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28), Nashville Superspeedway (June 25), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 16), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (October 15), and Homestead-Miami Speedway (October 22).
Bayne does not have any wins at these tracks. His previous trips to Victory Lane took place at Texas Motor Speedway in 2011 and Iowa Speedway in 2013. However, he has multiple top-five finishes at all of the remaining tracks, except for Nashville Superspeedway.