Ask any athlete and they’ll most likely tell you that nothing beats home field advantage. For the second straight week Nationwide Series regular Trevor Bayne will have that advantage.
The NNS heads to the Nashville Superspeedway for Saturday’s Nashville 300 and the Knoxville native will have “pretty much everybody in the family,” there to cheer him on.
Bayne enters Saturday nights race 17th in points with one top 10 finish in the four events this season.
Even though he’ll only be seeing the Nashville track for the second time, that doesn’t make him any less excited to be heading there. In the one race he participated in last season he started an impressive outside pole, then unfortunately finished 28th after being involved in an accident.
But Diamond Waltrip Racing’s young driver is a fast learner and will be ready to get back at it on Saturday.
Says Bayne, “I’m excited about going to Tennessee again, going home for Easter weekend. We had a great car at Bristol last time we were in Tennessee. I think we’re going to be the same in Nashville. I think these guys have stepped up the program since our debut last year. We had a solid run even then. It’s going to be awesome to see what we can do this weekend with all the progression we’ve done this season getting better and better.”
Bayne has been getting better through the weeks, running well during the races, but not being able to seal the deal with the finishes his No. 99 team is capable of. Last week in Bristol they finished 30th, which dropped his point position from 13th to the mentioned 17th spot he now occupies. However, if Bristol did one thing, besides make his team ready to right past wrongs, it was make Bayne hungrier for a win.
The Bristol high-banks saw another up-and-coming driver, Justin Allgaier, capture his first career win, something that Bayne has yet to do. Quite a change from the days when he was winning everything he ever sat on, a la Joey Logano. Bayne has over 22 championships in his trophy case, wins in go-karts, Allison Legacy Series cars, and more.
Once he climbed aboard a NNS car it was quite different.
He’ll be the first to admit that, however, he also has no problem admitting that he has a great team around him. Driving for Gary Bechtel and Michael Waltrip have helped turn his career around after he was unemployed when his driver development contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2009 disappeared (many look to the economy as the cause).
Now he’s on board with one of the best NNS teams out there, with great equipment and backing from Toyota, Bayne was ripped from the local tracks and thrown into prime time.
Don’t feel too bad for him though, he has it under control.
“I think the biggest adjustment has been the tracks, not so much the cars, because we ran the Camping World East Series and the Hooters Pro Cup, which were around 630 horsepower, they were big, heavy cars, above three thousand pounds,” he says.
“They’re really close to what these Nationwide cars are. But going to these mile-and-a-half tracks, even places like Nashville, have been big adjustments, just getting used to the arc of the corner… But other than that, it’s been a pretty smooth transition.”
And yet, just like any other driver, Bayne wants to win. He wants to experience what he once felt in those series as well as what he and other young Nationwide drivers saw Allgaier get to experience in Bristol.
He does know however that coming from those series to the NNS has changed something, “I think the competition is a little bit tougher than expected. I expected to hop right in and win in my first race out. But you get a reality check when you stop up to these levels.”
In his media conference call it was obvious that it’s not something Bayne is used to. However, it was also obvious that he has his head on straight. On having not won Bayne says, “It makes it tough. We want to win them all. Man, what can I do to get better?”
From there he goes onto say, “You just got to keep digging, keep your head up. The way I always see it is you got to go into the next race acting like you won the race before… Then the sport, you just have to always know that you need to be better, too. It’s a changing spot. You’re only as good as what you do today. You got to stay on top of your game pretty good to be able to stay up there.”
If Bayne wants to capture his first career win at one of his home tracks, Nashville would be the place to do it. The speedway has a knack for producing first time winners, most recently in 2008 when Brad Keselowski won his first while he was then driving for JR Motorsports.
In the 17 races that Nashville has hosted since opening its doors to the series in April of 2001, there have been seven drivers that have won their first race at the facility.
If Bayne happens to be the eighth driver to accomplish it on Saturday there is no telling when the post race party might end.
What is telling is that Bayne and many other stars in the NNS will get their chance to shine on Saturday.
It isn’t rare that the series gets the attention they deserve since most weekends they take a backseat to the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart. But Saturday will be all about them as they put on their own showing of who the future stars of NASCAR are.
Trevor Bayne is one of them, a driver that has worked his way from the bottom up and continues to impress.
This weekend he gets to do it on his turf.