Could Trevor Bayne switch Nationwide teams?
Jack Roush says he “would have an interest” in Trevor Bayne if the driver becomes available.
Given the current economic conditions in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Bayne’s current team Diamond Waltrip Racing cannot guarantee him a full-time ride for 2011. The team is a partnerhip between Michael Waltrip Racing and Gary Bechtel.
“I still don’t know what is going to happen,” said Bayne before Nationwide practice on Friday. “The option on our contract was not exercised when (Sept.) 15 came around. That’s the bottom line. Times are tough for sponsors; I understand that. But I’m a free agent now. I don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the year. We should know something soon.
“It’s disappointing because I built such a long-standing relationship with these guys. I’d love to see something work out here but I just don’t know what’s going to happen. There are a lot of unknowns.”
Bayne, 19, is currently seventh in the NASCAR Nationwide points standings and considered one of the hottest prospects on the tour.
MWR Executive Vice President of Business Development and General Manager Ty Norris said the company would not comment on Bayne’s status until next week.
Roush said that while he does not currently “have an idle” Nationwide team or a sponsor for a third team at the moment, that could change.
With Paul Menard’s departure at the end of the year, it opens up the No. 98 Ford for 2011.
Bayne made his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start in 2009, driving for team owner Jimmy Means. He made a total of 15 starts that season, driving 12 races for Michael Waltrip, two for Bryan Mullet and the one for Means.
He earned his first pole position at O’Reilly Raceway Park in his seventh career start and went on to finish seventh in the race. He finished seventh twice in 2009 for a pair of top-10 finishes.
This season, Bayne piloted the No. 99 Diamond Waltrip Toyota. Bayne has led 95 total laps and completed 4,599 of 4,934 laps. Bayne has nine top-10 finishes, five of them top fives, with four DNFs this year for an average finish of 16.8. He has started from the pole position four times and has a top finish of third, which he earned at both Gateway International Raceway and in the most recent race at Richmond International Raceway. He has three top-10 finishes in his last four races.
Rumblings of Bayne parting ways with DWR started earlier this week when Martin Truex Jr.’s name appeared atop of the No. 99 Nationwide Toyota. Early rumors had Bayne possibly driving for TRG, however with just 42 Nationwide races under his belt, that move could be considered premature. With Roush Fenway Racing equipped with both Nationwide and Cup efforts, it would provide Bayne with a solid program to gain seat time.
Bayne said his plan is to run the full Nationwide schedule next season. He never intended to run a full-time Cup schedule in 2011, but wouldn’t mind “dabbling” in the series at some point.
“There’s been a lot of interest from a lot of people,” Bayne added. “I definitely didn’t see this coming — to be sitting here at this point, but that’s where we are. People have shown a lot of interest because of the success that we’ve had here. This 99 car has been very successful this year. We’ve had a lot of top fives, a lot of great runs. They put together a solid team with great sponsors. I would have loved to have seen it continue because we have done such a good job and that’s put me in the position I’m in now, to have others interested.”
DWR is not the only Nationwide organization struggling to gain sponsorship. Penske Racing has offered Justin Allgaier the ability to search for a ride next season as well and Richard Childress Racing has shut down its NNS operation altogether.