Editor's Note: Over the next several weeks leading up to The Clash at Daytona, we will feature keys to success for a different driver each day.
After becoming the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in NASCAR history in 2011 and finally breaking through as a full-time driver for Roush Fenway Racing in 2015, Trevor Bayne enters a pivotal year to show growth as a racer.
Bayne finished 22nd in the points standings last season and posted two top-five and five top-10 finishes.
Check out Bayne’s five keys to success for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season:
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Bayne has been at his best on the biggest tracks in NASCAR. Along with his 2011 Daytona 500 win, almost all of his top-five and top-10 finishes have come at restrictor-plate tracks. When a win guarantees you a spot in the playoffs, having a strength at a specific track is a huge bonus.
In 2016, Bayne finished third in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona and 10th at the May race at Talladega. A little bump on those numbers and Bayne could be Chase-eligible for the first time in his career.
When Greg Biffle mutually parted ways with Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the 2016 season, RFR followed up the announcement by downsizing to a two-car operation.
The move to only field Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. should create opportunities for the two drivers to have better equipment. The addition of Stewart-Haas Racing to the Ford family could also create better knowledge through Ford from a performance standpoint.
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Continue to keep the car on track
Bayne ranked ninth in most laps completed in 2016. If Roush improves their performance from a technical standpoint, Bayne should see an increase in finishing position.
The driver of the No. 6 only suffered two DNFs in 2016, one from an engine failure in the Southern 500 at Darling and the other from a crash in the New Hampshire Chase race. Always a good sign when a young driver stays on track.
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Take smart risks
While it’s a great place to start by keeping your car on the track, you can only have so much success by avoiding tough situations all race. The next step after keeping the car on the track is getting the most out of it. To make a big jump forward, Bayne needs to make the most of his opportunities and get every position he can. This also transfers over to his crew chief and team to make tough decisions that will help their driver out.
Rely on Ricky
This goes both ways for the RFR drivers. Bayne and Stenhouse have had similar levels of success in their relatively short careers. With the attention of the organization squarely on their shoulders, Bayne and Stenhouse need to rely on each other to keep growing and put a Roush car in the Chase for the first time since Biffle in 2014.