After finishing with season-best runner-up at Dover, Trevor Bayne knocking on victory’s door

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Trevor Bayne has been like a door-to-door salesman this season: he keeps knocking but hasn’t quite been able to close the deal.

But after Saturday’s impressive second-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Buckle Up 200 Presented By Click It Or Ticket, Bayne is now on the verge of earning that elusive first win of the season.

Bayne came up just a split-second short of race-winner Kyle Busch on Saturday, but his season-best finish made the usual smile on Bayne’s face all the more wider and brighter.

“Man, I’m proud of this team,” Bayne told ESPN after Saturday’s race. “We haven’t given up yet. We had a top 10 almost every race this year, but we’ve been looking for that top 5 run.

“And today we finally had a car that was close enough to do that. Couldn’t catch Kyle. There were times when I’d run him down and get within reach and then get tight.”

In 12 NNS races thus far this season, Bayne has 10 top-10 finishes, including Saturday’s season-best and one other top-five showing.

But for him to take that next step, Bayne wants that elusive checkered flag.

“This Nationwide Series is so tough this season that you have to be on your game every single lap, and I felt we did that this weekend, but it stinks to be that close,” Bayne said. “You want to get greedy and just ask for that much more.”

With the Nationwide Series having next weekend off, Bayne — who is fourth in the standings, 27 points behind series leader Regan Smith — will be celebrating his first wedding anniversary while his team will try to find that few more elusive horsepower that’s the difference between another top 10 and finally reaching victory lane.

Ironically enough, Saturday’s race at Dover marked one full year since Bayne’s last (and second career) NNS victory at Iowa. Counting Saturday, his winless streak is now 33 races. It’s time to build upon this year’s achievements thus far and take that final step through victory’s door.

“I feel like it’s everywhere,” Bayne said when asked where has his team been making strides this season. “It’s not one thing you can point out and say this really gave us speed. I think it’s all the little pieces that add up.

“But I will say that we made one change in practice this weekend that brought the car to life, so it gave us a little bit of hope that we’re not that far off, that we might be missing it by a little bit. We’ll keep that quiet.”

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Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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