Trevor Bayne wins in both ARCA and Pocono debuts

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There’s something about first-time events that seems to bring out the best in NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne.

In his first Daytona 500 in 2011, Bayne came out of the proverbial nowhere to shock the world by taking the checkered flag one day after celebrating his 20th birthday.

Earlier this week, Bayne and wife Ashton announced that they were expecting their first child in December.

And to top things off, Bayne made his first career start in the ARCA Series on Saturday at Pocono Raceway. Not only did he start the Pocono ARCA 200 from the pole, less than two hours after taking the green flag, Bayne emerged with yet another first: the checkered flag.

He dominated, leading 42 of the race’s 80 laps, including the final 11 laps en route to the victory.

Bayne competed in the race because he wanted to gain more track time at the Tricky Triangle, particularly for Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 Sprint Cup race.

Ironically, even though he’s made 71 career Sprint Cup starts to date, Bayne – in his first full season in the Cup series – has never raced before on Pocono’s 2.5-mile tri-oval.

And if Saturday’s performance, driving for Cunningham Motorsports, is any indication of what happens Sunday for the Tennessee native, it could cap off arguably one of the best weeks of his life.

Bayne has had a difficult go of it in his first full-time Sprint Cup season. He enters Sunday’s race 31st in the standings, with his best finish thus far this season being back-to-back 18th-place finishes at Martinsville and Texas.

Grant Enfinger finished second, followed by Mason Mitchell, Will Kimmel and Matt Kurzejewski.

 

2015 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Event #8
Pocono Raceway, Long Pond Pennsylvania, 6-6-15
Pocono ARCA 200
FIN STR NO DRIVER/HOMETOWN TEAM & CAR LAPS STATUS
1 1 22 Trevor Bayne/Knoxville TN Advocare-Cunningham Motorsports Ford 80 Running
2 4 23 Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL GMS Racing Chevrolet 80 Running
3 2 78 Mason Mitchell/W. Des Moines IA AM Technical Solutions-MMM Chevrolet 80 Running
4 7 69 Will Kimmel/Sellersburg IN 1-800 Auto Parts-Accel Ford 80 Running
5 5 54 Matt Kurzejewski/Mansfield PA Costy’s Energy Services Chevrolet 80 Running
6 9 77 Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ Barbera’s Autoland Dodge 80 Running
7 12 6 Josh Williams/Port Charlotte FL Musselman’s-Anya Cale Chevrolet 80 Running
8 15 59 David Levine/Highland Park IL Ford Performance-TraqGear Ford 80 Running
9 8 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Lucas Oil-MAV TV Chevrolet 80 Running
10 30 52 Matt Tifft/Hinckley OH Federated Auto Parts Toyota 80 Running
11 3 25 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN Ansell Hyflex INTERCEPT-Menards Toyota 79 Running
12 6 55 Cody Coughlin/Delaware OH JEGS Toyota 79 Running
13 19 42 Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY Crosley Brands-T&T Constr-Glad Precision Dodge 78 Running
14 25 10 Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY Double H Ranch-Milwaukee Crusher Chevrolet 78 Running
15 14 98 Austin Wayne Self/Austin TX AM Technical Solutions-Pirate Energy Ford 77 Accident
16 17 9 Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL DK-LOK Ford 75 Running
17 21 3 Steve Fox/Hawley PA NormHuttonRacing.com Dodge 74 Running
18 11 12 Tyler Audie/Orlando FL Audie Expo-NP Properties Dodge 73 Running
19 31 97 Bobby Hamilton Jr./Greenbrier TN Nitroforce Industries Titan 1000 Dodge 60 Running
20 13 2 Sarah Cornett-Ching/Summerland BC Race101.net Chevrolet 57 Oil Leak
21 20 20 Tom Berte/New Berlin WI CGS Premier Chevrolet 31 Brakes
22 26 0 Dale Matchett/Cherry Hill NJ Wayne Peterson Racing Ford 23 Brakes
23 27 06 Don Thompson/Carlisle PA Wayne Peterson Racing Ford 23 Suspnsn
24 10 00 Cole Custer/Ladera Ranch CA Haas Automation Chevrolet 18 Axle
25 18 48 James Swanson/Clarksboro NJ Kan Do-Radon.com Dodge 16 Engine
26 16 58 Michael Lira/Port Orange FL Ford Performance-TraqGear Ford 16 Overhtng
27 23 40 Eric Caudell/Piedmont OK Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge 15 Electrical
28 33 15 Kyle Benjamin/Easley SC Greenworks-Cometic Gasket Toyota 12 Electrical
29 29 95 Scott Edwards/London England Carter 2 Motorsports Dodge 11 Transmssn
30 28 49 Rick Clifton/Circleville OH Radon.com Ford 10 Rear End
31 34 08 Tim Viens/Daytona Beach FL Wayne Peterson Racing Chevrolet 9 Engine
32 32 68 Ray Ciccarelli/Ellicott City MD Kimmel Racing Ford 5 Transmssn
33 24 8 Josh White/Charleston WV Hixson Construction Chevrolet 1 Electrical
34 22 07 Brian Kaltreider/Hanover PA Independent Graphics Ford 0 Accident
Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell:  Trevor Bayne 52.842 (170.319 mph)
Margin of Victory:  4.579 seconds Cautions:  4 for 22 laps
Time of Race:  1:35:57 Average Speed:  125.065 mph
Lap Leaders:  Mitchell 1-8, 64-68 (13); Bayne 9-17, 36-49, 57-63, 69-80 (42); Enfinger 18, 50-51 (3);
Kurzejewski 19-20, 22-35 (16); Williams 21 (1); Tifft 52-56 (5)

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Alexander Rossi hopes to dodge oncoming traffic in second Baja 1000

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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.”

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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