After 200th Ford win, will Bayne deliver manufacturer its 1,000?

NEWTON, IA - JUNE 09:  Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 Ford EcoBoost Ford, celebrates winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway on June 9, 2013 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NEWTON, IA – JUNE 09: Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 Ford EcoBoost Ford, celebrates winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway on June 9, 2013 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Two wins in back-to-back weekends. Two milestones in back-to-back weekends.

At least that’s what Trevor Bayne is aiming for this weekend at Michigan in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Alliance Truck Parts 250 (2:15 p.m. ET, ABC).

Last Sunday at Iowa Speedway, Bayne, driving the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, won the DuPont Pioneer 250 beating Austin Dillon to the finish line by 2.023 seconds. The win gave the car manufacturer its 200th NASCAR Nationwide victory.

With the series headed to Ford’s home state, the manufacturer is seeking its 1,000th victory in NASCAR’s three national touring series. Ford drivers have 714 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (96 wins by Mercury and four wins by Lincoln), 200 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and 85 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Bayne’s victory in Iowa was his second in 97 career starts in the series. His first came at Texas Motor Speedway in November 2011. In three starts at Michigan, his best finish came in his last series visit to the two-mile track when he finished fifth in June 2011.

“I haven’t run a Nationwide car [at Michigan] since they repaved it, but the Sprint Cup cars are unbelievably fast,” Bayne said.

In two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts there last season, he had rough outings. In the June race, Bayne bowed out after only seven laps with engine problems, finishing 43rd. The second race, he finished two laps off the lead in 24th.

Despite a four-race stretch earlier this season where he averaged an average finishing position of 24.5 (Texas through Darlington), Bayne and his team, headed by crew chief Mike Kelley, have slowly been making their way back up the standings and currently sit ninth, 80 points behind leader Regan Smith.

“We still got a long way to go. I don’t know by points, we quit looking at points a few weeks ago,” said Kelley, who was Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crew chief when he won the 2011 and 2012 NASCAR Nationwide titles. “We know our trailer is getting closer to the front where it’s used to being parked. So, that’s our goal right now, to keep this thing going in the right direction.”

The recent uptick in on-track performance isn’t coincidental.

“One of the big things that kind of helped us was about four weeks ago we sat down and looked at some simulation; the first time on track all year long that I could compare anything with Ricky and Trevor was the Texas Cup race,” Kelley said.

“I could go home and take the Cup data and run through simulation and find the differences of what Ricky and Trevor had in the same car on the same track on the same day. I started applying that to our Nationwide setups from Ricky before. I don’t want to say it was like a light switch, but it started answering a lot of questions and his feedback has been spot on.”

This year marks the first year that Bayne has been able to drive a full schedule and make a serious run at the championship since 2010 when he finished seventh in the standings. He recognizes this fact and is ever grateful for the opportunity.

“I get to drive a championship-contending car with a team that doesn’t give up,” Bayne said. “We’ve been through some trials this season but the Lord’s just made us stronger and now we’ve come back and fought hard these last three weeks and now we get a win.”

Another win this weekend and he’ll be celebrating another milestone with Ford.

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