Ford Performance NASCAR: Bayne Q&A Sessions at Bristol

Ford PR

Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Food City 500 Advance (Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, TN)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Page 1


Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, is racing on his home track this weekend in Bristol.  The Knoxville, TN, native came to the infield media center before practice to talk about this weekend’s race.


TREVOR BAYNE, No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion – WHAT SUITS YOUR STYLE ABOUT BRISTOL?  “I always look forward to coming here for multiple reasons, but one is our cars seem to perform well here right now and they have for the last few years.  The vertical load of the banking, our cars really like that when there’s no free-floating through the corner.  A lot of the flatter tracks we seem to struggle at, but here at Bristol you’re able to drive the car really hard, load it up, get all four corners to work really well, so that’s a good thing for us.  I think our last four races we have just under a ninth-place average and we can’t say that about many other race tracks, if any others, so coming here you know you’re gonna be competitive.  That’s always fun.  It’s not as fun to go to the race track when you think it’s going to be a weekend you’re going to struggle, but coming to Bristol when we have a shot to have a top-five car it gets me pumped up.  I love coming here to see the fans that I’ve seen since I was five-years-old coming to this place.  Last night in Knoxville we had our Food City Family Race Night and people bring by pictures and I’m holding them like as a baby and now they’re 14, 15-years-old, so even I feel old when I go to that.  But I just love coming here and I’m excited to get the weekend going.”


DO YOU GO INTO THESE RACES THINKING YOU HAVE A CHANCE FOR A TOP-FIVE?  “Yeah, right now, where we’re at, I’d love to be at a place where I could say, ‘We’re going to win every weekend.’  And we know that has to be our goal.  If we’re gonna be in the Playoffs, you’ve got to win.  That’s just how it is basically for any team, so there’s nothing more fun than being in that position when realistic expectations are going to win.  We’re not in that place right now to where that’s realistic or where you set yourself up to make gains.  For us, right now, it’s about the small gains, the small victories.  Last week at Texas was one of those.  We finished 12th.  That’s our best run of the season, which isn’t saying a lot, but it’s something to build on.  We felt like we had fast cars and were able to make it through the demolition derby and two crashes and somehow still finished 12th, so we try to build on that.  Bristol is a little bit unique because we have had so much success here, though.  Daytona and Talladega, you go to those thinking, ‘You know what?  We’ve got a shot to win and be in the Playoffs and just get another win.’  Being fast at Bristol, if you can have a top-five car, with the things that happen here as quickly as they happen, you know you have a shot to win.  At the end of the day tomorrow, if we feel like we have a top-five car, then I’ll come back on Sunday thinking, ‘You know what?  We’ve got a shot to come win here.’  But, again, it’s all about being realistic in your expectations.  If you go to the race track thinking you’re gonna be top of the board every weekend and you unload 20th, it’s hard to make those baby steps that you need to become a top-15, top-10, top-five team and that’s something we’ve been preaching basically to our guys for the last four years is set goals and go meet them.”


WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR TEAM AFTER SEVEN RACES?  “Just pure execution hasn’t been what we want it to be.  Some of the things have been our fault and some haven’t.  You look at some of the mechanical issues we’ve had with tires or different components.  Those have been things we can’t control.  Things we can control are loose wheels and different things like that that have taken us out of the running.  At Daytona I felt like we had a shot to win until we had that issue, so we haven’t done ourselves a lot of favors, but we’ve also been fighting hard and that’s all I can ask of my guys is to show up every week hungry to do better and to want to come and give it their all and not give up and dig in deep.  It gets tough when you’re been digging deep for four or five years trying to turn things around when you don’t get the fruit of that and don’t get the results that you want.  It can be real easy to lay down on a tough week, but we’re trying not to do that and, like I said, last week at Texas having a fast car and a decent run helps rebuild momentum and get us on the right foot again.  We had the off-weekend and we had to kind of take that as a reset, but with the new structure I think it’s a little bit easier to turn things around now.  The fact that the first five races may not affect your chances at a Playoff run is a really good thing.  The fact that you’re still in the same slate as anybody else below 16th in points you just got to go get a win, that’s really nice to have.  It does allow us to have some of the mentality we were talking about earlier – to show up and just win.  You aren’t points racing per se anymore.  You’re going to win and everything else is what it is.  It allows me to go home at night and I don’t know if you guys ever watch Supercross, but those guys lay it all on the line, they crash and they get up and it’s like, ‘No big deal.’  I think that allows us to have a little bit more of that mentality in the situation that we’re in, where we know that we’re probably not a top-10 car on points at this point in the season, we’re able to go and go for the wins and if it doesn’t work out, then you move on to the next week and start getting hungry for that next race.”


WHERE ARE YOU AT IN THE RFR TURNAROUND?  “It’s kind of hard to assess at this point because we’ve had so many execution and issues, but, on overall speed I feel like we’re comparable to where we were mid-season last year.  I don’t know that we made gains, but we didn’t really lose as much as I might have thought we would in the off-season, just with different things happening in our sport with manufacturers and different things.  I didn’t know where we were gonna stack up honestly into this year and, surprisingly, without many changes Ford is still on top and that’s really cool to see.  Roush Yates has done a great job with our engine program, with the two-race sealed engine program.  I think they’ve done a great job, so we have that.  We have Fords winning races, so you don’t have any excuses if you’re in a Ford, that’s for sure.  It gives us the ability to go in and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to work on our team.  We have to get our cars faster and drive them better and work on them smarter,’ and do all of those things and execute well.”


ANY EXTRA PRESSURE RACING HERE?  “I actually enjoy this race more than any other.  I don’t really ever come here feeling pressure, it’s more fun for me.  It’s close to home.  I get to drive up the morning of and my family is here, my friends, people who have supported my career get to come and watch, so it’s fun for me.  And then also being that we’re fast here makes it fun.  I think if I wasn’t from Knoxville I’d still love Bristol because it’s so unique.  It’s not your typical mile-and-a-half or mile track.  It’s so different than any other atmosphere we race in that it’s a lot of fun to come to, whether it’s your home track, your favorite track or you hate it, it’s still a fun place to come.”


IS SHORT TRACK RACING LESS PHYSICAL NOW THAN IT HAS BEEN?  “When he asked about Bristol there, it’s funny you asked that because I was just thinking about what makes this place fun and I think the fun part of it is it is such a physical race track, not just the cars touching, but on your body.  The physical demands of this place are tougher than anywhere we go, so the reason that’s fun for me is I know I work with that.  With AdvoCare and the bikes that I ride, all the training that I do, you can tell the last 100 laps if somebody has their tongue hanging out the right side of their mouth.  They’re worn out and you know that you can go up and mentally push on those guys a little bit.  We may not have to do it with the front bumper, but you catch somebody, you see them start missing their marks, and you know, ‘Hey man, this guy is hanging on by a thread.  If I go push him a little bit harder, he’s gonna run out and he’s gonna make a mistake.’  So it’s more of the mental side and the physical side on the body that makes this place fun.  There are times when you do have to put the bumper to somebody and you have to keep moving.  We see that happen here.  I think what has happened in our series, though, is kind of that mentality I was just talking about – that we don’t have as much is how important points are.  We’ve learned that over the years.  You can’t make a mistake.  You can’t have a bad race.  You’ve got to get in on points.  I think people are starting to understand the importance of winning in the Playoff structure and the unimportance of points for some of the points.  Some teams will get in on points, but that allows us to go and lay it all out there.  A guy like myself, I don’t have to worry so much about the points racing and I can go, and if I need to push on somebody I can and if I get pushed on, well, I was in the way.  But obviously the VHT and the stuff they’re doing here at Bristol has tried to help a passing lane where you don’t have to hit each other.  If you’re all in one lane, then the only way to go forward is to move them out of the way, whereas if you have the bottom to use, you can make a clean pass.”


HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN TO THE FANS HOW HECTIC IT GETS IN THE TRAFFIC AT BRISTOL?  “Well, If you’ve ever tried to leave the track after the race, just do that at about 130 or 140 miles an hour.  That’s about how it feels.”


ANY SUPERSTITIONS ON FRIDAY THE 13TH?  “No.  That’s not me.  What does that even mean?”


THOUGHTS ON RICHMOND NEXT WEEK?  “I love short track racing.  That’s what I grew up doing.  That’s natural for me.  I want to keep working on our cars to get them better I feel like our struggle every week is that we can’t turn the center well enough.  We’re tight in the middle and we’re limited how much we can free them up because we get loose in, especially tracks where you have a lot of braking kind of bit Stenhouse and myself at Martinsville – being really free on the brakes I wheel-hopped, got into the fence.  It happened to him in practice.  Richmond is a place getting into turn three you can have that issue, so we’ve got to keep working on our cars to figure out what we have going on with our short track program to get them tight enough on the brakes where we can free up the middle of the corner, and that kind of transfers everywhere.  That’s what we’re working on.  I love short track racing when the car drives good, we just have to get them there so we can go and have fun.”


DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE TO FIGHT AS HARD AS YOU HAVE THE LAST FOUR YEARS IN CUP?  WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE TO FIGHT LIKE THIS?  “It’s hard.  When you’re growing up as a five-year-old kid in racing, or a 12-year-old or a 15-year-old, 20-year-old winning races, you expect to continue that.  That’s kind of the expectation.  You thrive off of that.  You want to win.  You see yourself as being a Cup champion or being the dominant guy.  You see that promise growing up, so when you get here and you’re in this situation where you struggle, it’s really hard.  You depend on the people around you to kind of motivate you, to encourage you and keep you going and then you kind of have to look at things and remind yourself, ‘Do I have what it takes?  Do the people around me have what it takes?’  And you have to build on that confidence.  What you can’t do is start second-guessing yourself, your ability, your God-given talents, and then you can’t question the people around you.  You’ve really got to believe in each other and keep pushing forward, so that’s where we’re at right now.  I have to go to the race track every weekend thinking I can drive as good as anybody out there, otherwise I’m not gonna get my best.  You really have to work at that and it’s not easy.  It’s not easy to struggle.  It’s not easy to be questioned.  It’s not easy to go to the race track even when you’re a 15th to 20th-place race car every weekend.  When you know that you can go win and you want to go win, you want to prove that you can win that makes it tough.  Normally, people can fight for a short period of time.  You can do it for a year.  You can struggle for two years maybe, and then you hope that you finally come out of that, but we’ve been battling for a long time.  We’re still gonna keep battling.  I don’t have any quit in my system and I don’t think the people around me do, but it sure would be fun to get the results from that.  It would be really fun to be the team that can come here thinking we’re gonna win every week or run top-five.  Not only would it be fun, it’s just what we all want to do.  It’s what we all planned on doing our whole lives, so you just keep fighting.”


WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO TO TRY AND GET THOSE WINS?  WE DON’T SEE MANY UPSET WINNERS ANYMORE.  “That’s tough.  I think the stages you kind of have known cautions, so we see a little bit less of the fuel strategy races playing out the way that they might have a couple years ago.  I think you see the few fast guys being a lot faster right now.  Like I was telling Harvick on the way to the driver’s meeting in Phoenix was like, ‘Man, you’re taking away our excuses of anything in our Ford camp.  You’re dominating.’  And he said, ‘Man, I always tell Rodney I can’t drive a slow car fast.  My car has got to be good.’  And you’re just seeing these fast cars dominate.  It’s hard to do anything to outrun those guys.  You watch Harvick last weekend have an issue on pit road and he still comes back and runs well, so it’s really tough to beat guys when they’re that fast no matter what you do.  It almost has to come to a fuel strategy race, it has to come to a superspeedway or a short track where there’s a lot of attrition.  For me, when I say that, if the opportunity does present itself you go for it.  It may not work out, but you don’t have that second-guess of ‘should we try to stretch our fuel window?’  Well, of course you should.  It just takes any of that second-guess out and for me as a driver it allows me to just lay it all out there and keep putting myself in every good position that I can.  Does that mean be a wild man?  No, because that doesn’t put me in position to win races.  I have to be smart, but you can be aggressive and you can just go for it.  Again, the race like California where I was outside Newman.  Typically, you might not keep it on the outside when he’s coming up, but when the leader is right there about to put you a lap down, you’ve got to stay in it.  When it bit us, when it did cut down the right-front, well, that really stinks for our points, but we need to win anyway.  That’s kind of the way I see that and it allows you to move on.  It would be fun to be able to points race and be able to do that.  I would love to do that.  I feel like I’m good at that and that’s one of my strengths is I’ve learned over time.  At the beginning it wasn’t a strength, it was a weakness, but you learn over time how to take care of your equipment and get the best result you can.  But now at this point it’s not really the situation I see us in.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.