Ford Performance NASCAR: Trevor Bayne Transcript

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Food City 500 Advance – Bristol Motor Speedway

Friday, April 21, 2017

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, is back in his home state of Tennessee for this weekend’s Food City 500.  The Knoxville native stopped by the infield media center at Bristol Motor Speedway to talk about his team’s improvement this season.

TREVOR BAYNE – No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO RACE HERE?  “As you guys know, this is the place that made me a NASCAR fan and made me want to do what I do, so it’s obviously a special place for me.  I love racing here and even if I wasn’t from Knoxville I would love this race track.  It’s just really fun and we’ve been successful here.  That always makes it more fun when you’re fast and can run well.  I think the last three races we’ve had top-15s and a top-5 in this race last year, so with the performance gains we’ve made so far this season, I’m really looking forward to getting on the track and seeing if those gains relate to Bristol as well.”

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU CAN TRUST THE VHT IN THE RACE?  “When I got here today and walked on the race track and saw how black it was I was almost concerned it’s too rubbered up.  Sometimes at these race tracks when rubber gets down throughout the weekend the track slows down, so it’s pretty excessive.  I don’t know.  I’m excited to get on the race track and see.  Obviously, the only thing I’ve seen so far are the K&N cars and they’re using it.  If I look at last year’s race, I felt like it was a big benefit for the first 15 laps of a run, but as your tires fell off and you couldn’t go to the gas as hard as you wanted to on exit, you moved up and tried to get the runs on exit just like you would a mile-and-a-half.  If that is the case.  If it’s useful for that again, I would be totally pumped and content about that, but we won’t know until we get out there.  Like you said, with the rain, you think about road course races when moisture gets in the air you kind of run off line a little bit.  You don’t want to be on the rubber, so I don’t know how the chemical reacts to water, but I know how rubber reacts and there’s a lot of rubber down there.  I’m looking forward to practice to kind of feel that out.  I do know that last year in practice it was really fast and everybody practiced down there and then you got to the race and you wished you had worked on your car on the top a little bit more.  So, for us, again I think I’ll probably run down on it if it’s fast for 15 laps or so, but even if our lap times aren’t as quick, I still have to force myself to run the middle, run the top, work on my car where we know we’re gonna race at.”

DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM CAN SUSTAIN THIS IMPROVED PERFORMANCE?  “I think it’s different this year.  Last year, we saw some success but it was inconsistent.  One weekend I might be fast, and the next maybe Greg or maybe Ricky.  But we weren’t all always consistent.  We couldn’t run door-to-door every race.  It was kind of like one of us got lucky and hit a lucky setup and had a decent car build and we went and we ran well, but if I look at last weekend at Texas with what happened in practice when I crashed the primary, last year and in year’s past I would have thought, ‘Well, we’re done.’  The backup is gonna be terrible.  We just got lucky and the primary was fast, but we’re actually building fast race cars now.  They’re building them with that intention and it actually works.  Every car has been fast.  Ricky and I have finished door-to-door almost every weekend, so we’re able to consistently do that, and I think that’s what makes us hopeful.  It’s not like we went to California and Texas with low grip and said, ‘Okay, we were pretty fast there,’ now we’re gonna have this false hope that we’re gonna be good everywhere.  I think Martinsville was a huge gain for us.  We were both able to run in the top-10 at parts of the race.  We’d been terrible there in the past, so to see us on a flat race track have speed, and I think the other part of it isn’t just the result at the end of the day, but it’s what’s happening at the race shop, it’s what’s happening in our culture and our communication.  A lot of the same people are there – the talented people that we’ve always had, but we’re actually using them as valuable resources now.  I feel like we’re using their knowledge.  We’re able to tap into that.  The way we’re functioning as a living, breathing organism as a race team we’re doing well together and that’s what’s making the difference.  Nobody got smarter over the off-season, we just figured out and we’re still figuring out how to work better together, how to hold each other accountable without feeling like you’re pointing a finger at everybody else and saying, ‘Hey, it’s your fault that we’re not running good.’  We’re holding each other to a high standard and, as I’ve said before, focusing on results.  Saying we need to be running top 10 doesn’t get you a result.

“You focus on the small things that you do every week that equal that result and I think we’re doing a better job at that, so as long as we continue to develop, as long as our engineers stay hungry and we don’t get content with top-15 place finishes because those become 20th later in the season.  As long as we stay hungry and build on what we’ve already learned and stay to our goals, I think we’re seeing our goals were pretty good.  We hit those goals and we’re seeing results, so if we continue to hit those goals our potential is gonna stay where it’s at or get better throughout the season and that’s what we’re excited about.”

HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH WHAT’S GONE ON AT ROUSH FENWAY THE LAST FEW YEARS?  “Again, I think we’re results-based.  That’s what we do.  We’re all about results in racing, but, for me, obviously, as you mentioned, my contentment comes from my faith and this is a job I have, so I want to do well at it.  I feel like God’s given me ability, given me opportunity and then given me a work ethic and I have to use all those the best that I can, but at the end of the day, I can’t control everything.  If I can leave the race track and say, ‘Man, I prepared as hard as I could.  I was as fit as I could be.  I feel like I nailed every corner that I could nail.  I did great on pit road,’ and I did all those things 100 percent and we finished 20th, well then that’s all I had that day and I’ve got to be okay with that.  But now the days when I make mistakes and crash my teammate or do things that I didn’t prepare all the way or I fell out of the seat because I was tired, well, I needed to be doing more.  For me, I think that’s what helps you on those tough days.  When all you have is a 20th-place race car, but you know that you’re doing everything that you can, you just have to be okay with that.  I keep pushing my teammate and pushing my crew chief, pushing my engineers to get more potential in the car and that’s what we’re doing now.  I’m still not fixated on what is the end of the day result.  I’m not fixated on is it 13th, is it fifth, is it a win, I’m fixated on doing my job the best that I can and hopefully that equals wins and equals top fives, but my faith has definitely played a huge role in that – me being able to be content in that – but I’m not gonna lie it’s been tough at times  When I first got to Roush if you didn’t qualify in the top 10, all their cars, it was a bad day.  If you didn’t run in the top 10 it was a bad day.  We kind of lost that for a little while, but I feel like last weekend at Texas we’re kind of back to that standard.  I’m watching the pylon in qualifying and Ricky and I are able to jump up and were mildly concerned with making the second round in qualifying.  We feel like we should do that every weekend, whereas last year it was like, ‘Oh man, we made second round at times.’  Now the concern is third round, so you just keep firing away, you keep coming back hungry.  I know this is where God has put me, so I can’t let results beat me down at the end of the day, and just stay fired up and stay hungry for it.”

DOES THE FACT YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CAR HELP YOU ON A WEEKEND LIKE THIS WHERE YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH PRACTICE TIME YOU’LL GET?  “Yeah, especially since it’s Bristol, where we’ve had success.  Last year, Ricky had a second-place and I had a fifth-place, so we know we have a decent starting package.  The track hasn’t changed.  The cars haven’t changed that much as far as loads and setups are concerned, so no practice and I feel like we would still be pretty close.  We have a good baseline to go off of and that gives you confidence.  As I said, I’m really kind of anxious to get on the race track to see what kind of speed we have and see what our cars are like because we have made so many gains at all the race tracks this year.  If last year we were a fifth-place car, I’m wondering are we gonna be capable of winning a race here this weekend?  I don’t know the answer to that yet because I haven’t been on track, but that is in the back of my mind right now.  Man, if we’ve made the same gains here at Bristol that we’ve made everywhere else, then we can be a contender.”

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT LIKE YOU DID AT TEXAS IN PRACTICE?  WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THE GUYS OR WHAT DO YOU DO?  “That’s a fine line.  For me, you’ve got to move on, but if you move on too quickly, it looks like you don’t care that you just crashed the team’s race car and their hard work.  And if you beat yourself up all day, then you’re no good to the team either.  I think what happened was as soon as I crashed I’m like, ‘Dang, man, I  just crashed the fastest race car I’ve ever had.’  I’m in the infield care center because they force you to go and I’m looking at the TV and I see the backup rolling out of the trailer and I’m like, ‘This is terrible.  I just feel awful for my guys.’  But what’s nice is that my team right now, like I said with the culture and communication, we are a team, so if my pit crew messes up one time on pit road, I’m not going off on them.  When I crashed the primary car at Texas when we’re at the top of the board, they don’t come in and say, ‘You stink.’  We have trust in each other, confidence, and we know that we’re pushing that limit.  We were top of the board partially because I was moving the groove out into turn one and finally took too big of a chunk, so they know I’m pushing 100 percent and mistakes are gonna happen, but I would say I’m pretty hard on myself for those mistakes.  That’s one of those things that when I rate myself at the end of the day it’s based off of how did I execute, not the end of the day result, so that mistake is on that checklist I go through.  But I think you’re frustrated, you show it, you come in and your team is like, ‘Alright man, let’s go,’ and you’ve got to pick yourself up and move on.  But what really helped me overcome that was the fact that my team got a backup car out of the hauler, got it on the race track in 25 minutes.  That is impressive.  For us to crash in a 50-minute practice and get two more runs on the race track.  I was laughing because one of the 11 guys, Denny’s team came over, and he’s like, ‘Man, if that happened to us, we’d be hoping we were on the track tomorrow.’  So the confidence that built for my team to know that we’re doing the right things, I think it’s maybe my second backup car in three years, so it’s not like they were expecting to use it, but they were still prepared.  Preparing for the unknowns is what’s gonna make you successful and they’re doing that well.”

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHARLOTTE RACE GOING FROM NIGHT TO DAY IN THE FALL?  “I love Saturday races.  It’s an extra day at home.  I love night racing and Saturday races, but I’ll be at the race track on whatever day and whatever time they tell me to be.  I’m a fan of Saturday night races all the time for the pure fact that we get that extra day, but, other than that, the racing seems fine.  The fans, if it draws a bigger crowd or better TV, then I’m all for it.  Marcus and the guys at SMI know what they’re doing, so I fully trust that they’re making good decisions.  I’m sure that has already been enough opinions about Saturday versus Sunday and I’ll just get my schedule when I get it and show up at the race track.”

IS IT BETTER RACING DURING THE DAY?  “To me, as far as the actual racing, you know, ‘Okay, if we race at night, my car needs to drive like this in practice.  If we race during the day, our car needs to drive like this,’ and you make those adjustments.  It’s obviously less grip during the day.  You slide around a little more, so I think the biggest thing that will happen is if it’s a day race, you may see the top come in a little bit more.  If it’s a night race, the bottom is 100 percent gonna be the way to go, so you think about that as you go into the weekend.  You think about, ‘Do I need to work on the bottom, the top, does my car need to be tight or loose at the end of practice?’  And then you just go from there.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PART OF THE FRATERNITY OF DRIVERS WHO HAVE WON A RACE WITH THE WOOD BROTHERS?  “You’re right about gaining perspective.  I think every race, every year I appreciate what we did even more.  I see how tough it is and how I just kind of showed up as this 20-year-old kid and thought, ‘Oh, this is how it’s gonna be.’  And then you realize how tough it can be at times.  I feel super-blessed and fortunate to have had that and to have done it with the Wood Brothers.  That’s a special family and for the fact that they’ve stayed in this sport, stayed relevant in this sport and competitive is a huge testimony to who they are as people and what they’ve done as a family.  They’re not a huge corporation organization.  It’s still very much run by Leonard, Eddie and Len and even Glen, he’s still out going strong, so those guys are incredible people.  Their whole family, their wives and kids and everybody that’s involved, they’ve managed to stay relevant in a sport that requires huge organizations to do that.  That’s why drivers like myself have had opportunities to win in their cars.

“They always find a way and with the help of Ford to be in the right partnerships.  Their partnership with Roush and now their partnership with Penske, they’ve got good equipment.  Ryan Blaney has been super-fast this year.  As he continues to learn as a driver, as I continue to learn as a driver, they have the speed, they just have to put together the full race and whether it’s pit road things or whatever it might be, you can’t avoid wins when you’re fast.  They just happen and I think those guys are on the path to that for sure, and I’m happy for the Wood’s.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PART OF THAT GROUP?  “It’s kind of like the Daytona 500.  There are just certain things you get to experience as a person and to be a part of that group that has helped the Wood Brother to win in every decade and to have that relationship with them.  Eddie and Len still talk about it to this day about what that meant for them.  There aren’t many things in life that you still talk about six years later and seven years or 10 years later like we will be.  For us to have had that experience together and, like you said, it’s a fraternity with a lot of guys who won in that race car, and not just guys that have won with the Wood Brothers, but won Cup races.  Obviously, I hope to continue in my Cup career and go and win a lot of races, but to be in that group of drivers that have won Cup races and to have done it with the Wood Brothers is really special.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU GO AND WATCH PRIOR RACES AS A MEANS OF PREPARATION?  “Preparation is a huge part of my week and weekend.  It’s something that as a young driver I kind of took for granted.  I tried to do all this on natural ability and you realize really fast when you get to this level that everybody has got natural ability and you have to work pretty hard at it.  I feel like this year is the most systematic I’ve been in that approach with notes and with dark fish videos, which are the overlays from past races, and with watching full races.  In my training, I have a lot of time indoors in the gym or on a spin bike or on a treadmill and I kind of have it playing or I’ll go through it.  Today, I went back and watched both races again quickly, skipping through the certain parts, but it’s really important to do that, to know what you’re going into.  Just like earlier when I was talking about how it seemed like 15 laps you could run on the bottom and then you had to move to the top in the last race.  Things like that you forget in six months or a year.  When we go back to these race tracks you would think that we would remember everything, but I can’t remember where I qualified or finished the last race.  I have to go online to look and see how I did, so it’s important for me to go back through my notes and it’s important right after the race to take good notes.  A lot of times you think, ‘Oh, I’ll remember that when I come back,’ and you don’t write it down and you get back and you don’t remember it until about halfway through the race.  So, for me, notetaking has been really important after the race.  Some drivers probably laugh at all the stuff I’m saying like, ‘Aw, you don’t need to do any of that.’  But I’m under the impression that if there’s something out there that can give me an advantage at all, then I’m gonna use that to the best that I can.”

About Greg Engle 7420 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.