Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: The Case for Trevor Bayne

Trevor Bayne showed what he can do this season, and it deserves a 2023 payoff. 

Bayne has run a grand total of nine NASCAR Xfinity Series races during the 2022 season. 

In those races, he has an average finishing position of eighth and an average starting position of 4.3. The veteran can drive, and maybe he’s always been able to. 

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Xfinity Breakdown: We Saw it Coming, Noah Gragson Locks Himself Into the Championship 4

In 2010, the Knoxville, Tennessee native ran his first-ever full season in the Xfinity Series and ended the season seventh in the driver standings. The next year, Bayne had a higher average start and finish, but found himself just outside of the top 10 in the driver’s standings, as he ended the season in 11th. That was in part due to a massive amount of time he spent sidelined due to illnesses he suffered after a spider bite

After some sponsorship troubles in 2012, Bayne returned full-time to what was then the Nationwide Series (sorry if that makes some fans feel gray-haired) the following year, as he replaced reigning champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who moved up to the NASCAR Cup Series. 

In 2013 and 2014, it was relatively smooth sailing for Bayne and his fast Roush Fenway Racing Ford (now RFK Racing), as he placed sixth in the driver’s standings both years. That was enough for Bayne to get the call up to the Cup Series to drive the prestigious Roush No. 6 Ford. 

Bayne’s Cup years in the No. 6 were marred by inconsistency all the way up to his departure in 2018. At times, Bayne had pace. However, when he did, it usually ended up with him facing the wrong direction at some point during the race. 

Bayne was defeated, citing that he had offers to drive, but not the sponsorship required to fill the seats. He returned home to Knoxville with his family and began to settle into what looked to be the life of a retired professional racecar driver — until he got a phone call. 

Bayne ran nine races for Niece Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series in 2020, one in the No. 40 Silverado and eight in the No. 45. He even finished as high as second at the fall Talladega Superspeedway race that year, losing to Raphael Lessard in a race that ended under caution.

That was enough to get a shot to run Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Xfinity car in select races throughout the 2022 season, and that brings us up to speed. 

The question now is what’s next, and I’m here to tell you it should be a full-time ride. 

There are plenty of veterans in the Xfinity series and plenty of drivers have completely revitalized their careers in the process. 

Look at AJ Allmendinger, he’s competing for a championship and has already secured a full-time Cup Series ride next season after once being out of NASCAR. Could Bayne not follow suit?

Obviously Allmendinger specializes at road courses, but a glance at Bayne’s career will tell you that there are certain tracks he runs well at. He got a win in the 2011 Daytona 500 and and has numerous top 10s at Talladega, showing he has a knack for superspeedways. But Bayne is talented at other track types as well, winning NXS races at Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway during his time with Roush. 

JGR wouldn’t just let anyone with a sponsor drive the No. 18 — the team sees it too. After back-to-back top 10s, coming at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, the folks at Gibbs have to be impressed. 

Bayne brings a veteran presence to a very young JGR Xfinity squad, a team that’s about to lose two of their best drivers no less. Ty Gibbs is likely moving to Cup to replace Kyle Busch, and Brandon Jones is moving to JR Motorsports. Bayne’s been proven to be more than competitive in competent equipment, and he can provide a type of steadiness that a younger driver might not be able to.

Still, Bayne told Frontstretch he doesn’t any plans for next year just yet. There’s no doubt Bayne deserves a ride, though. 

Despite Bayne only having partial funding behind him, there’s the potential for him to attract more. Companies have shown interest in the past in older drivers simply because they know the nature of the sport better. 

Gibbs giving Bayne a full-time ride is a move that makes sense, and I fully expect his name to be in the silly season mix. 

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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Both Bayne, & Klingerman, deserve fulltime rides.

But, unfortunately there are so many deserving drivers who never get a shot at a ride to match their talent.

Due to not being able to bring enough $$ to go with it.

To quote JJ Cale, “Money talks, it says strange things.”


What is wrong with the vote counter? Has anybody at the FRONTSTRECH been noticing?

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