CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Daniel Shirey/Getty Images North America photo –
There is no “I” in team, and for sophomore Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor Bayne, that cliché has become a motto following a disappointing 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
This offseason, crew chief swaps and other interior adjustments have jostled the Roush Fenway camp. But, above all, a closer relationship between team personnel has been the most important change of all – at least according to the 23-year-old, Knoxville, Tenn. native.
“It is not going to be one person to turn around Roush Fenway Racing; not one crew chief change, or engineer change,” Bayne said on Wednesday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom. “It is going to be a team effort. I think what has happened as an emphasis is just communication and team work. You wouldn’t even recognize the shop now. It’s not just the No. 6 team [versus] the No. 17 team and the No. 16 team; now, it is a whole Roush Fenway organization working together.”
In 2015, Bayne posted a mere two top ten finishes (at Michigan and Daytona) and finished an even more dismal 29th in the championship standings. But even though the sledding was tough, his commitment is strong to his race team.
“I think our driver input, what is [wrong] with the cars is the most we can do [to turn things around],” Bayne expressed. “And our commitment through it. It is definitely hard sometimes, but we are in this together. So, just knowing it is going to take time, but we are definitely on the right track.”
Teaming up with new crew chief Matt Puccia — himself a three-time Sprint Cup Series winner — Bayne has even more reason to be excited entering the 2016 season.
“I look forward to what we have done on the No. 6 team with Matt Puccia coming about,” the driver explained. “He was a guy bouncing around the shop talking to drivers and crew chiefs trying to figure out his race cars and I have always liked that about Matt. We are hitting it off already and I feel like we are ahead of the game on our cars and plans. We also have had some other additions in the spotter category and mechanics that I think will be good. I am looking forward to all of that.”
In addition to that, Bayne will also be paired again with long-time teammates Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher (via a technical alliance with Front Row Motorsports) and Greg Biffle; which gives the Roush organization even more of a ‘family’ feel this season and maintains their ever important team chemistry.
“Ricky [Stenhouse] and I have been teammates for six years now,” Bayne expressed. “I was teammates with Chris [Buescher] in the XFINITY Series, and last season was my first real year working with Greg Biffle. I think we have a lot of youth at Roush Fenway, but we also have a lot of experience. As a driver lineup, we have experience together, and that is a great thing to have.”
Along with the racing modifications, Bayne and his wife Ashton had their first child — daughter Elizabeth — in December, adding to the many adjustments for him this offseason. Taking all that into account, he says his life could not be any better right now.
“I think as a racecar driver I will be the same,” Bayne said of having a child in the offseason. “But off the track, I have something to look forward to. My wife is great, my relationship with the Lord is great and now my baby girl. I couldn’t ask for it to be much better.”
“I’m glad she was born during the offseason, though; if she had been going to come during the season I might have been a little late to the drivers’ meeting (laughs).”
Now, as for whether his still infant child will follow in her father’s footsteps (of course down the road), Bayne is unsure.
“It is really up to her [laughter],” Bayne answered about whether his daughter would race or not. “But, her mom, says ‘no way’ [laughter]. It is something I have always thought about though. If my kids wanted to race, then I would support that, but I would much rather have her play golf, soccer or something like that for my sake.”
Back on the racetrack, however, the Volunteer State native is looking forward to a strong 2016 season — starting with the 57th annual Daytona 500, a race he won five years ago with the Wood Brothers (and to date his only win in the Sprint Cup Series).
“It is unbelievable how long it has been — it has been five years, and that blows my mind. But, I think it is about time to win another [Daytona 500]; that one is fading a little bit. It’s time to go get another one.”
Despite a 92-race winless streak since winning the Great American Race in 2011, Bayne says he does not want to be defined by the races he wins because he has been putting in a tremendous amount of effort to get back to the winners circle.
“I am not defined by how many races I win. I know that every time I leave the racetrack I gave it 100 percent. I don’t remember a race where I got out of the car and said I should have tried harder. So with that I know I can sleep at night, and I know I am doing all I can.”
In fact, Bayne believes his team has a lot to prove to the competition, his fans and everyone watching this season.
“There has been opportunites for us to score a top five, but we just have not executed,” Bayne said. “I look forward to going and proving that we are still capable of that. I think I have a lot to prove and I think our team has a lot to prove – and we are ready to go at it with that mindset.”
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and in addition to his writing duties is also the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Md., and is in his sophomore year. He is just 15 years old.
Email Marshall at: [email protected]
Follow on Twitter: @MarshallGabell
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