SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor Bayne had a realistic chance to win for the first time since his stunning triumph in the 2011 Daytona 500.
With 11 laps left in Sunday’s Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400, Bayne was running third behind Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, but those two drivers were running short on fuel, and pit stops were imminent.
Bayne had enough gas to go the distance. The suspense lay in whether Matt Kenseth, on new tires, would be able to make up an 11 -second deficit over the final 11 laps and overtake Bayne for the lead.
But those calculations became moot when a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch brought out the 10th caution of the race on Lap 150 and negated Bayne’s fuel strategy. After pit stops, his hopes for a strong finish disappeared in a frontstretch crash moments after the first overtime restart.
“I was kissing the bricks in my head,” Bayne said of his state of mind before the Lap 150 caution. “I know it’s a long way to go, but really we had a big enough lead, and I was saving fuel and really making good lap times. A lot of times you watch Kyle Busch and he lifts early here and makes good lap times, so I studied that this week and it really paid off. But with fuel strategy you save and you’re going pretty fast and saving the tires and we had a huge lead over the 20 (Kenseth).
“He was coming, but I think I could have held him off. Man, you don’t really get many opportunities for strategy like that to play out, and it was, but when the caution came out, I might have bent my steering wheel a little bit, and then after that the one on the frontstretch you’re like, ‘What a day.’
“It’s just really frustrating. We’re waiting on a break. We’ve been running really well, and we want to get those results for everybody.”