Trevor Bayne pulls into tie with Regan Smith for Nationwide Series points lead

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While Kyle Larson won the race and accolades in Saturday’s TreatMyClot.com 300, the already tight Nationwide Series standings grew even tighter.

By finishing ninth in the season’s fifth race, Trevor Bayne moved up from second and into a tie for the series points lead with Regan Smith, who finished right behind Bayne in Saturday’s race in 10th place.

Bayne came into the race just one point behind Smith. He continues his outstanding start of top-10 finishes in each of the first five races: third at Daytona, seventh at Phoenix, eighth at both Las Vegas and Bristol and now ninth at Fontana.

Smith, meanwhile, earned his third consecutive 10th-place finish, having also done so in the previous two races at Bristol and Las Vegas. He started the season with a win at Daytona and was eighth at Phoenix.

Ty Dillon (8th Saturday) remains in third place in the NNS standings, six points behind the two co-leaders.

Chase Elliott (6th) remained in fourth, eight points back, while Elliott Sadler (5th) remained in fifth place in the standings, 11 points back.

Brian Scott (12th) moved up one place into a tie with Brendan Gaughan (15th) for sixth in the standings, each 25 points back.

Dylan Kwasniewski (11th) moved up from ninth to eighth, essentially switching places in the standings with James Buescher (16th), who dropped from eighth to ninth.

Kwasniewski is now 36 points behind Smith and Bayne, while Buescher is 40 points back.

Rounding out the top 10 in the NNS season standings is Mike Bliss, who finished 18th Saturday and is now 60 points behind Smith and Bayne.

Smith holds the tiebreak over Bayne based upon his win at Daytona.

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UNOFFICIAL Provided by NASCAR Statistics- Saturday, 3/22/2014 @ 8:16 PM Eastern UNOFFICIAL
Points Report
Auto Club Speedway
16th Annual TreatMyClot.com 300

Position Driver Points Back
1 Regan Smith 185 —
2 Trevor Bayne 185 —
3 Ty Dillon 179 -6
4 Chase Elliott 177 -8
5 Elliott Sadler 174 -11
6 Brendan Gaughan 160 -25
7 Brian Scott 160 -25
8 Dylan Kwasniewski 149 -36
9 James Buescher 145 -40
10 Mike Bliss 125 -60
11 Chris Buescher 122 -63
12 Ryan Reed 117 -68
13 Mike Wallace 115 -70
14 Landon Cassill 114 -71
15 Dakoda Armstrong 112 -73
16 Jeremy Clements 84 -101
17 Eric McClure 83 -102
18 Jamie Dick 76 -109
19 Jeffrey Earnhardt 75 -110
20 Joey Gase 73 -112
21 Blake Koch 60 -125
22 Derrike Cope 58 -127
23 Tanner Berryhill 56 -129
24 David Starr 39 -146
25 Daryl Harr 39 -146
26 Kevin Lepage 34 -151
27 Will Kimmel III 33 -152
28 Ruben Garcia 30 -155
29 Carlos Contreras 30 -155
30 JJ Yeley 25 -160
31 Jason White 25 -160
32 Matt Dibenedetto 24 -161
33 Mike Harmon 23 -162
34 Ryan Sieg 22 -163
35 Chad Boat 20 -165
36 Robert Richardson 19 -166
37 Scott Lagasse Jr. 18 -167
38 Ryan Ellis 16 -169
39 Martin Roy 14 -171
40 Tommy Joe Martins 14 -171
41 Carl Long 13 -172
42 Bobby Gerhart 11 -174
43 Kelly Admiraal 9 -176
44 Jeff Green 8 -177
45 Harrison Rhodes 5 -180

Alexander Rossi hopes to dodge oncoming traffic in second Baja 1000

Honda Photo
Honda Photo
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One of the great viral videos of last year’s offseason was the sight of Alexander Rossi’s Honda Ridgeline off-road vehicle and its near head-on collision with a passenger SUV coming in the wrong direction of last year’s Baja 1000.

The video of the incident overshadowed an outstanding debut for Rossi in the SCORE OFF Road Desert race.

Rossi (pictured above on the right along with fellow driver Jeff Proctor) told NBCSports.com that driving down the same roads still used by passenger traffic is one of the unique challenges of the Baja 1000.

“The most demanding form of racing is IndyCar racing,” Rossi told NBC Sports.com. “But the big thing for me in the Baja 1000 is mentally being able to understand the terrain that is coming at you at 120 miles an hour in the dust and pedestrians and other cars, people and cattle that come along with this race.”

Rossi is becoming a modern-day Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. He wants to race anything on wheels and win.

Since the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season concluded with the Sept. 22 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Rossi competed in the Bathurst 1000 in Australia on Oct. 13. Earlier this year, Rossi drove for Acura Team Penske in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

This weekend, the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016 and a perennial contender for the NTT IndyCar Series championship will compete in the Baja 1000 for the second straight year.

Rossi will be driving for the Honda Ridgeline Racing team and is the sixth Indy 500 winner to compete in the Baja 1000.

Other Indy 500 winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 include Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis winner and a two-time Baja 1000 race winner (1971 72); fellow Honda IndyCar Series driver and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, the Indy winner in 2014; Rick Mears, who won the Indianapolis 500 four times, 1985 Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan and 2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice.

NTT IndyCar season champions who have raced in the Baja 1000 include Mears, Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.

Rossi has a better understanding of what to expect in this year’s Baja 1000 after last year’s rookie experience.

How valuable was last years’ experience?

“It’s hugely valuable,” Rossi said. “The course changes each year. There will be some elements that are the same, but it’s a new route from start to finish this year. That is why we go down a week early. We do pre-running in a similar type of vehicle and take course notes and analyze each individual section of the course, find the danger areas and what you need to do come race day.

“Ultimately, the biggest thing is having the knowledge of how to prepare for the race and what to expect once you roll off the starting line. That is something I will have going for me this year that I didn’t have last year.”

As an off-road rookie, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“I don’t know that I can pinpoint any highlights other than just the whole experience,” Rossi said of last years’ experience. “The whole week and a half I had down there in 2018 was phenomenal. The team made me feel part of the family from Day One. I just love driving a desert truck through Baja California. It’s an experience unlike any other.

“The entire event was a highlight more than one specific moment.”

Getty Images

Driving an off-road Honda Ridgeline through the desert of Baja California in Mexico is vastly different than Rossi’s regular ride in the No. 27 NAPA Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series. But Rossi believes there are many similarities, also.

“It’s very different, for obvious reasons, but ultimately, a race car is a race car,” Rossi said. “It has four wheels, and you are trying to get it from Point A to Point B quicker than other people. The general underlying techniques of getting a car through the corner efficiently is all the same; it’s just a different style.

“Everyone here is very talented at what they do and very good so in order to win this race, you have to be at the top of your game.”

The Baja 1000, like most forms of off-road racing, is more against the clock than a wheel-to-wheel competition such as IndyCar. Rossi believes it is a different form of endurance racing, similar to IMSA in many ways.

“You have to compare it like an endurance race,” Rossi said. “It’s a race where the first part of it, you are trying to get through and not take chances and stay in touch with the people you are trying to stay in touch with.

“When you get down to the final 20 to 30 percent, that is when you try to either close the lead of extend the lead of whatever position you are in. That is similar to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It comes down to the last three or four hours, and we take a mentality closer to that.

“The only difference is if you get it wrong at Daytona, you spin in the grass. Here, it can be more dramatic than that.”

As an off-road rookie in 2018, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“The Honda off-road guys and my co-driver/navigator Evan Weller make it so easy for me to just jump right in and go to work,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to share the seat with Jeff [Proctor] and Pat [Dailey] once again, and hopefully, bring home a win.”

The Honda Off-Road Racing Team has had an outstanding 2019 season, including class wins for the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck at the Parker 425, the Mint 400 and the Baja 500; where the team successfully debuted the second-generation “TSCO” chassis; and a second-place Class 7 finish at the Vegas-to-Reno event.

Proctor won his class in the Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 with the Ridgeline, finished second in class in 2017 and 2018; and won the companion SCORE Baja 500 race both in 2016, 2018 and again earlier this year. The Ridgeline competes in Class 7, for unlimited six-cylinder production-appearing trucks and SUVs.

“We are stoked to have Alexander back racing with us in Mexico for his sophomore attempt at this iconic off-road race,” Proctor said. “This year’s 52nd annual Baja 1000 course covers ALL of the toughest terrain and areas in Baja Norte….as always, it will be tough.

“Alex is one of the brightest motorsports minds I’ve worked with, and he is a great asset to our team.”

The Baja 1000 begins Friday and runs through the weekend along the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500