Trevor Bayne gets married, then wins Nationwide race in Iowa

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Step one, get married. Step two, deliver on track.

Maybe that wasn’t originally how 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne drew things up of late, but that’s how they have transpired.

Bayne’s been mired in a bit of a career slump since that shock win in only his second ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. This year, back in a full-time Nationwide Series ride, Bayne took over the No. 6 Ford that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has driven to back-to-back series championships.

Last Tuesday, he tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Ashton, ahead of the Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway. That was a good thing for the 22-year-old on the personal front.

But it had been a tough slog racing-wise until Sunday in Iowa, which had been rain-delayed by a day. Bayne’s car was set up for long runs and in the final stretch of the race, it absolutely came alive.

Bayne caught in erstwhile dominant race leader Austin Dillon despite being more than two seconds behind him. After a side-by-side battle for a couple laps, Bayne emerged ahead on lap 239 in the 250-lap DuPont Pioneer 250.

“I knew we’d catch (Austin), but once I got to him, you could really see that he was frustrated,” Bayne told NASCAR.com after his first win of the season, and second in his Nationwide career.

“I just stayed behind him for a couple of laps to let him cool off. If he was frustrated, I didn’t want to take a chance on anything. There was a time where I cleared him and I was able to drive away enough to where he couldn’t get back to my bumper and try to cross us over, so that’s where I made the pass.”

Bayne’s win is only the third in 12 starts by a NASCAR Nationwide Series regular this year, with Regan Smith and Sam Hornish Jr., 1-2 in the points standings, scoring the other two. The Nationwide race at Iowa was also the first standalone event of the year for the second-tier series, which often shares Sprint Cup weekends.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.