Strong Run for Bayne Halted by Late-Race Incident in Indy
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (July 23, 2017) – Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, had enough fuel to make it to the end of Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was in position to win before a late-race caution shuffled the running order. Restarting third for a green-white-checkered finish, Bayne was knocked sideways just before the start-finish line, severely damaging the AdvoCare Ford. Bayne ultimately finished in the 20th position.
“We had the strategy to win it,” said Bayne after the race. “I was kissing the bricks in my head. (Crew chief) Matt Puccia and the guys gave me a great AdvoCare Ford and I was so thankful to have a shot to win the Brickyard. It’s just really disappointing.
“On the restart it stacked up and my wheels were in the air,” added Bayne. “ I really had no control in either direction and I finally got turned. I’ve never been so disappointed in my entire racing career. Every week we give it our all and do everything we can through God’s Glory and trust him with the results, whether it’s good or bad. Sometimes you don’t really understand and it hurts because you want to win races and want to run good and make the most of every opportunity for everybody – for AdvoCare and all the people who work hard. It’s really disappointing.”
Bayne took the green flag for the rain delayed 160-Lap event from the 22nd position and quickly worked up to 16th before the caution and subsequent red flag came out for rain and lightning on Lap 12. After a 1 hour and 47 minute delay, Bayne restarted on Lap 17 from 16th and remained inside the top 20 throughout the remainder of Stage 1, finishing the stage in the 18th position.
After pitting for four tires and a chassis adjustment in between stages, the driver of the AdvoCare Ford began Stage 2 from 15th. A flurry of cautions created a variety of pit strategies during the second stage as Bayne battled a tight-handling condition through the center of Indianapolis’ distinct corners. Despite not handling to his liking, Bayne took the green and checkered flag to end Stage 2 in 20th.
The third and final stage went green with Bayne continuing to fight for position inside the top 20, running as high as 18th before a caution on Lap 110, provided crew chief Matt Puccia with an opportunity to play out strategy. With virtually all of the leaders staying out, Puccia called Bayne to pit road on Lap 115 for four tires and a chassis adjustment. After quickly discussing the plan on the radio, Puccia brought the Knoxville, Tenn. native back to pit road again to top off with fuel when the field go the one to go on Lap 117.
As a result of the two stops Bayne took the ensuing restart from the 17th position but utilized a three-wide move to race into 14th. Bayne maintained his track position throughout the long green flag run as Puccia coached the Roush Fenway Racing driver on the radio to save as much fuel as possible. With constant reminders as the laps wound down, Bayne had saved enough fuel to ensure he was good to go to the end while the race leaders all came to pit road ahead of him.
Then, just after moving into the third position, the caution came out, wiping out the fuel strategy and leading to everyone coming back to pit road for four tires and fuel. Bayne returned to the track in the fourth position but utilized a Lap 158 restart to move into third before the caution flag waved once again.
This caution set up a green-white-checkered finish and saw Bayne in the preferred inside line on the second row for the restart. However, contact from behind just before the start-finished line sent Bayne sideways in front of the field, severely damaging the AdvoCare Ford.
Unable to drive the car back due to the damage, Bayne was scored with a 20th-place finish.
Next up for the MENCS is Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 30.