NASCAR Bristol Notebook: After Long Dry Spell, Trevor Bayne Has Reason To Celebrate

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

The field takes the green flag for the Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The field takes the green flag for the Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – No one was happier to see Trevor Bayne running with the leaders than Trevor Bayne.

The driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford won the 2011 Daytona 500 in his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, but that he hadn’t scored a top-five since then – until Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bayne qualified 10th and ran near the front until a commitment-line violation on Lap 149 sent him to the rear of the field. Undeterred, Bayne drove back through the field and took advantage of late restarts to finish fifth, his first top-five result after a drought of 99 races.

“It was a lot of battling back,” Bayne said after the race. “We went through a lot of adversity to get there, but we just didn’t give up. We had a really good race car. That’s what paid off. You can’t come back if you don’t have good race cars, and we’ve got that now.

“I need to minimize my mistakes going forward, but we were able to make mistakes and get back to a top-five finish. I kept getting on the bottom on restarts every time, but it came back to me at the end. We were able to start on the top those last three, and that’s really what got us in the top five.”

Having a strong run at Bristol was especially sweet for the Tennessee driver.

“Yeah, if there’s somewhere I could choose to run well, it’s Bristol,” Bayne said. “It’s a tough race track. It’s my home track. I have a lot of fans here, and it just feels good to be in contention…

“It’s a short track, and we know we’ve had our struggles with those, and we wanted to get better at them, and we’ve made a quick turnaround to get better here.”


If Matt DiBenedetto had done a burnout alongside race winner Carl Edwards, no one would have blamed him.

That’s how unexpected DiBenedetto’s sixth-place finish was in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol. After going a lap down, the driver of the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota got a free pass as the highest-scored lapped car for a restart on Lap 345, and subsequent cautions kept him on the lead lap.

On the final three late-race restarts, DiBenedetto lined up 14th, 10th and eighth – all in the top lane – and took full advantage of the fast way around the .533-mile concrete oval.

On the final restart with five laps left, the NASCAR Next alumnus passed Kevin Harvick for sixth and held the spot to the finish. That result was a career-best for both DiBenedetto and BK Racing.

“That’s unbelievable for a team like to us to be growing this much and for us to get a sixth-place run,” said DiBenedetto, who came to driver introductions disguised as ZZ Top lead guitarist Billy Gibbons, beard and all.

“I’m sorry I’m so emotional. It’s just this is like a win for us. I’m so excited. I see my family back here – my wife, Taylor, my brother is in town from the military and I’m so glad he got to experience this. This is just… this is incredible. I’m so blessed to be here.”

Race winner Carl Edwards had made a point of congratulating DiBenedetto on his 20th-place run in Phoenix in the fourth race of the season, but Edwards wasn’t aware of the driver’s strong run behind him.

“They finished sixth?” Edwards asked, incredulous. “Man that’s unbelievable. That’s probably tougher than what we did.”


Eight weeks into the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Chase Elliott already has two top-five finishes, and they’ve come in his last two races.

Last week at Texas, he ran fifth, and on Sunday at Bristol, the 20-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate improved one spot to a career-best fourth, despite losing two laps when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 178 because of a loose wheel.

Elliott ran as high as second before losing one position each on the final two restarts.

“We just had a really fast car,” said Elliott, who gained two spots to 12th in the series standings. “I think that was the biggest thing. (My) guys brought a good car this weekend. We started a little slow, didn’t qualify as well as we’d like to on Friday (19th), but I thought we hit on a couple things (Saturday) in final practice that fortunately carried over to today.

“And we were able to kind of work our way up through there. Hate to have a loose wheel, but guys did a good job overcoming that, having a fast pit under green only losing two laps. That was big to keep us in contention there and try to get back on the lead lap. Definitely a long afternoon, but had a fast car, and that was the biggest thing that kept us alive.”

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