More prepared and patient, Trevor Bayne set for full-time Cup drive

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Trevor Bayne’s “A Star Is Born” moment at the 2011 Daytona 500 proved to be something else entirely.

Bayne shocked the NASCAR world with his victory for the Wood Brothers in that year’s Great American Race. While he ran with that team on a part-time basis in Sprint Cup for the next four seasons, a full-time Cup ride didn’t materialize.

Instead, Bayne’s main focus shifted to the Xfinity Series, where he raced the full 2013 and 2014 seasons for Roush Fenway Racing.

The 23-year-old Tennessee native will finally get the chance to compete every weekend at NASCAR’s top level this season in Roush Fenway Racing’s revived No. 6.

“It’s been a really wild last few years for me,” Bayne said during the recent NASCAR media tour in Charlotte. “To go from winning [the Daytona 500] and expecting to be full-time that season to going back to [Xfinity] part-time and part-time Cup, and then full-time [Xfinity], and now to be full-time Cup, it’s been wild.

“But what I can say is that I’ve had confidence that Jack Roush was a man of his word, and that at some point, I’d be driving his Sprint Cup cars full-time like he had promised. And now that opportunity’s come.”

The journey to a full-time Cup program may not have been what Bayne had pictured following his Daytona triumph, but he says the experiences he’s had in the last four years have not only made him more prepared but taught him patience.

“There were times where I’d call somebody that was close to me and be frustrated that I wasn’t running full-time Sprint Cup, and they would remind me of what I’ve been through,” he recalled. “I think 2011 probably aged me 10 years.

“But the last couple of years have been more mellow. I feel like they’ve been kind of in the middle. No extreme highs or lows, and that’s taught me a lot in how to handle that as well. Going into this season, I feel more well-rounded than I would have been in 2011 running full-time [then].”

Another good sign is that Bayne’s maintained his physical health after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in late 2013 (he’s mulling over a return to doing triathlons). With that, he’s putting full focus on developing a rapport with crew chief Bob Osborne and also helping Roush return to its winning ways after a couple of down years.

“We were reacting on a Monday to what happened on Sunday and just kind of shotgun-blasted ideas,” Bayne said of Roush Fenway Racing’s struggles in 2014. “What you do is you work really hard but you don’t make any ground. It’s like being in water and you feel like your drowning; you start paddling hard, but you sink. You have to take smooth, calculated strokes.

“I feel like that’s what we’re doing now. We’ve hired the right people, we’ve got the right talent with drivers, and I feel like now we can have a productive plan to go forward.”

What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been
Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 win didn’t send him on a path to superstardom. Instead, it marked the beginning of a four-year run that saw him jump regularly between the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series.

2011
Sprint Cup – 17 starts, 1 win, 1 top-5, 1 top-10 (Won Daytona 500)
Xfinity – 29 starts, 1 win (Texas), 5 top-5s, 14 top-10s

2012
Sprint Cup – 16 starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 2 top-10s (Best finish of 8th, Talladega)
Xfinity – 6 starts, 0 wins, 1 top-5, 3 top-10s, 1 Pole (Best finish of 4th, Las Vegas)

2013
Sprint Cup – 12 starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 0 top-10s (Best finish of 16th, Charlotte)
Xfinity – Full season: 1 win (Iowa), 7 top-5s, 21 top-10s, 1 Pole, 6th in Points

2014
Sprint Cup – 12 starts, 0 wins, 0 top-5s, 0 top-10s (Best finish of 19th, Texas and Michigan)
Xfinity – Full season: 0 wins, 5 top-5s, 21 top-10s, 1 Pole, 6th in Points (Best finish of 2nd, Dover and Chicago)

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.