FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Trevor Bayne earned his first career NASCAR Nationwide victory after he passed dominating teammate Carl Edwards following a tremendous restart with seven laps remaining Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway
Bayne won the Daytona 500 this year but had never won in his previous 76 Nationwide starts in the series where he is a regular for Roush Fenway Racing.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Bayne said. “That ending there was cool to get to go up against Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin. … Right before that last caution, I didn’t think we were going to have a shot because we were about half a track behind Carl. I thought the car was good, but I just didn’t think we’d have enough time.”
Edwards, the Cup points leader, led 157 of 200 laps at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track. He was still in front when Jason Leffler hit the wall and brought out the final caution. Bayne was then fourth.
After helping push Edwards forward on the restart, Bayne was able to get around Hamlin, who then passed Edwards and finished second while filling in for Kyle Busch.
Bayne was confident his car would be strong for a short run after the last restart. He led only the final six laps, the fewest laps led for a Nationwide winner at TMS, and won with an average speed of 143.464 mph.
“We had gained three or four spots every restart all day,” he said. “With us being in fourth position, that was about the number of cars we could pass and we were just able to get a great restart. … We had enough power to get by (Hamlin) and able to get to the bottom and get on Carl’s left rear a little bit and get by him.”
Bayne’s victory was owner Jack Roush’s 299th NASCAR win and secured Ford’s third manufacturing championship in the series.
Nationwide points leader Ricky Stenhouse finished sixth and has a 17-point lead over Elliott Sadler with two races to go. Sadler, who came in 15 points back, finished ninth after running ahead of Stenhouse for much of the race.
“That’s better than where we were when we came in and that’s really all we can ask for,” Stenhouse said.
Hamlin took over Joe Gibbs’ No. 18 Toyota for Busch, and had to start 40th after the unexpected driver change.
Busch was barred from driving in the Cup and Nationwide races. NASCAR took that rare step after Busch deliberately wrecked championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr. in the Truck Series race Friday night.
By the midpoint of Saturday’s race, Hamlin was already up to third behind Edwards and Clint Bowyer, who finished fourth.
Back in February, the 20-year-old Bayne became the youngest Daytona 500 winner in race history when he won the season opener.
Now a year after his Cup debut at TMS, Bayne has his first Nationwide victory at the same track. It comes during an up-and-down year that includes a month when he missed five races because of an inflammatory condition.
“I don’t know if you could script a story like the year I’ve had,” Bayne said. “It’s crazy to think only one year ago I was making my first Cup start and to come back here to Texas and get our first Nationwide win, this is a place I’m gonna love from now on. But this year has been a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but I think the people around me and myself, we’ve tried to stay right here the whole time. We’ve tried not to ride it to the top or ride it to the bottom and that’s been important for us.”
Edwards said the victory was huge for Bayne. “He’s been through a lot that anybody in his position would consider that a big journey that he’s been on and to be as young as he is and to have so many changes in his life right now, and for him to handle everything as gracefully as he has, I think, says a lot about him,” Edwards said. “So it’s neat to see someone like that have some success.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)