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Mar 15, 2013 - 03:43 PM
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2013 Bristol Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Trevor Bayne
Posted by: ASkyler on Mar 15, 2013 - 03:42 PM
2013 Bristol Q&A: NASCAR Sprint Cup - Trevor Bayne

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Ford EcoBoost Mustang, is coming off back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and has moved from 26th to eighth in the point standings. Bayne hosted a Q&A session Friday morning in the Bristol Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss the start to his season and hopes for this weekend.

TREVOR BAYNE - No. 6 Ford EcoBoost Mustang - HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO BE HERE AT BRISTOL? "I’m excited. I’ve got my big puffy jacket on right now because it’s really cold here this weekend. I wasn’t expecting that. My motorhome driver told me there were flurries earlier, so I don’t know what to expect. Hopefully, we’re not making snow angels after the race like Kurt Busch a few years ago, but I am excited to be back. I got to go to Food City Race Night last night and hang out with a lot of fans and spend some time with them and we’re doing that again tonight, so it’s good from that aspect. And I also love the racing here. Bristol is one of my favorite tracks that I go to every year. We’re fast here and I have the most experience here than I do at any other track just from Hooters Pro Cup days and stuff like that, where I used to come here and make laps."


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YOU’VE BEEN IN THE CAR THREE STRAIGHT WEEKS. HOW IS IT TO FINALLY GET IN A RHYTHM AS OPPOSED TO THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS? "I can tell a difference already and it’s only been three weeks. Just the comfort level that you get after being in the car and being able to feel it and know what you need by race time. Even on the Cup races I feel like it’s helping me out. At Vegas last weekend, unfortunately, we weren’t able to qualify in the Cup car and kind of put us behind at the beginning, but I felt like our car at the beginning of the race was closer than it’s been in a while. Part of that is because they’re working on things to make it better and it’s a new car, and part of that is because I kind of know what I’m feeling a lot more when I’m in the car every weekend, and I can help them to understand what it needs. I think on the Nationwide side those cars have been so fast week in and week out and that just builds your confidence in yourself and in the team and the whole program. Last weekend, we got into the wall with the 32 and we were able to drive back from 28th to fourth and have a solid finish. You points race differently when you’re racing every weekend. It’s way different than trying to go out and win every race, so that you can get a sponsor and maybe continue to race or not, so I’m really comfortable in this situation that I’ve got and I feel like it’s helping me in every aspect from confidence to the competition side to the comfort level - just everything involved in it."

HOW MUCH DOES IT HELP YOU TO RUN AGAINST GUYS WITH A LOT OF CUP EXPERIENCE RACING FOR THE NATIONWIDE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR? "It definitely pushes the competition to the next level when you look at that. There’s guys like Sam Hornish, who is leading the points now, that has won Indy 500s and run for Indy championships, and guys like Brian Vickers, who has run in the Cup Series for multiple years, and Elliott Sadler. You’ve got new guys, like Austin Dillon, and Allgaier - there are so many names in the Nationwide Series this year and going into it everybody talked about how it’s gonna be one of the most competitive years that we’ve ever had and it goes back to 2009 when I came into this series and Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski and the Gibbs cars were running strong and it’s back to that level of competition, I feel like, so it makes us up our game and you know that every week you’ve got to be consistently in the top five. You’ve got to bust out a few of those wins and you can’t have the bad races. Daytona obviously put us behind at the very beginning with a part failure and we’ve tried to bounce back from that, and I think we’re meeting our goal every weekend, but, even at that, with two fourth-place finishes we still know that we need to step up our game and get to Victory Lane soon and click off those top-threes to be in this championship run by the end of this season because there is a lot of tough competition, which just helps us all."

ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE OF HOW THIS THING IS GOING TO START TO PLAY OUT AND WHO WILL BE THE MAIN CHALLENGERS FOR THE TITLE? "I think going into it, before we ever got to the race track, we kind of knew who were going to be the contenders and we’re seeing that play out exactly as everybody talked about. The top seven or eight guys is what everybody predicted. I think the order is a little bit different than people thought it would be at this point, but it’s still three races in and people have had a bad race or two at this point, and there are guys that haven’t had their bad races yet, which will cycle out eventually. Normally it does because I’ve never seen a perfect season for anybody. It could happen this year, but I think at this point we see that the level of competition is what everybody expected it to be and that it is gonna be tough. There are guys that were a little underestimated, like Hornish, who have won races now and run up front every weekend. And then you have guys like Brian Vickers and Elliott Sadler that everybody expected to be up front, so week in and week out the competition is gonna be up and I think we’ve got to focus on that championship now. You want to do it this early in the game. I’ve never done that before. It’s a different mindset for me because I’m used to going out and making the most out of the first five races and hoping that we get sponsorship and then moving forward, but, at this point, we know we’re gonna be around at the end of the season so we need to start thinking about that points battle and being smart with every position and making sure we don’t jeopardize ourselves. When you’re running fourth and you want to finish third, but you think it’s gonna wreck you and you’re gonna finish 20th, it’s not worth that one more spot this early in the game."

DO YOU THINK HORNISH WAS UNDER THE RADAR? "Yeah, you can see that the guy is hungry. He’s driving Fords this year, which are really fast Nationwide cars with the Mustangs, and I think on the list of championship contenders he was probably in the top five or six, but I don’t know that he would have been at the top on everybody’s list, and, like I said, we’ve got a long season to play out ahead of us. Who knows what will happen, but winning a race is very important early in the season and they’ve done that. He’s a great guy and a strong competitor and he’ll be a guy we’re hopefully battling at the end for this thing."

ON THE SPRINT CUP SIDE, DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE AT ANY KIND OF HANDICAP AS FAR AS ADJUSTING TO THE NEW CAR WITH YOUR LIMITED SCHEDULE? "I think by the end of the year that handicap will be bigger and bigger as they go on and they go to more tracks and they learn more about the car. Fortunately, we have the engineering support and the data support from Roush Fenway. I get the driver data from the EFI packages, which shows me a lot. Without that, I might be at a bigger disadvantage, but anytime you’re not in the car it’s a disadvantage, but I think that we can work through it and I think that gap is closer this year than it’s been for us in the past because they don’t have the experience with the new car. Everybody started out fresh this year and they might have a two-race advantage over us going into Texas versus a 60-race advantage over four years, so I think that gap is a lot closer and we’ll be able to be stronger early in this season. But as the year goes on we’ll have to pay attention and keep up with it because it will be a very quick pace as far as changes with this new car because people will figure it out as they go and with something new there is more to figure out."

DO YOU HAVE A DANGER OF PUTTING TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF THIS WEEKEND? "No, I don’t think so. I think because we’ve been fast here and I’ve got more laps, it just makes me more comfortable. It seems like teams do better in front of the home crowd for some reason. Even though the noise is the same, when they’re pulling for you it helps, so coming home to Bristol makes it really sweet for me to be here and to have a chance to run with a top team for a win. Last year, we qualified on the pole. We were fastest in practice. The race before that we qualified second and ran up front all day, but now I’ve got to figure out how to win this thing and how to be up front at the end of the day when it matters, and I think a little bit of that is making sure that we’re not too fast in practice. Sometimes you can work on the car too much and get it too free, and I think that’s what I’ve done the past two races here, so if I’m not at the top of the board today, I’m not gonna go crazy and start freeing the thing up and hoping that we’ll be better at the end of the race here. We’re just gonna work on that and hopefully we can get a win for Ford with this being a Ford weekend. We’ve got EcoBoost on our car, which is gonna be cool, so there is a little bit of pressure that comes with that, but it’s nothing we can’t handle."

WHAT HAS TRAVIS PASTRANA SHOWN YOU AS A TEAMMATE SO FAR? "Travis has got a ton of drive. That guy, anything that he wants to do he wants to be the best at it. He didn’t come to NASCAR just to say he did it. He didn’t come here just to make laps and get experience, he wants to be good at it. To be good at something you have to be a listener and you have to be able to put it into action, and that’s two things he’s shown me so far this year. He asks the right questions and he puts it into action when you give him advice, so that’s something you want in a teammate. Last week at Vegas we got by him after I had been in the crash and we were driving through the field and he filed in right behind me and picked up everything that I was doing. In our meeting on Monday he talked about that. He saw what I was doing in the car and he instantly picked it up and put it to work, so that’s what you want to see, and I think he’s gonna have a lot of improvement. He’s shown speed by qualifying in the top 10 and running in the top 10 week in and week out. I think he’s gonna be around this sport for a long time, hopefully."

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