Bayne opens up about MS diagnosis

It’s full speed ahead for 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, despite his announcement Tuesday that he has multiple sclerosis.

Fortunately for the 22-year-old driver, he has shown no symptoms of the disease and plans to race the entire 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule in an AdvoCare-sponsored Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang, and 12-18 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Wood Brothers Racing.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS is a disease that attacks the central nervous system. “The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another,” according to the group’s website, “Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected by the disease.”

Bayne and Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark met with a handful of reporters at the team’s campus in Concord, N.C., Tuesday morning. Bayne said he’s known about his medical condition since late summer, when he was diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic, but wanted to get it out in public now, in part so he can discuss it as part of his faith.

“As a Believer, as a Christian, for me, this is part of my testimony I wanted to be able to talk about,” Bayne said. “When I go to places and speak and I tell people about my faith, it’s not that I trust Him (God) because everything is going great. I trust Him through everything, whether it’s good, whether it’s not so good, whether it’s hard, whether it’s inspiring, whether it’s difficult.

“So for me this is something else,” Bayne said. “This is just another piece of my story and another part of my life that I deal with, and I feel like I’m a pretty open book and I never wanted to feel like I had anything to hide or ever had anything where somebody talked to me about it – I had to sit in the corner and try to push the question a different way.”

In person, Bayne appeared exceptionally fit. He said he’s in excellent health and even ran a marathon last December, coming in second in his class and 38th out of 440 entrants.

Bayne also said he didn’t know when, if ever, he would develop symptoms of MS, which his sister also suffers from.

“My hope is not to ever have symptoms again,” Bayne said. “Obviously, there are people who have gone with completely normal lives with MS, and I hope to be one of those people. Nobody knows exactly what the future holds for anybody, but, for me, I trust that whatever God has planned for me is what’s best for my life. I’d love to be healed. That would be perfect if that’s what He plans for, but, if not, then we’ll move on day by day with it, and at this point I have no symptoms and feel completely fine to drive.”

Newmark said the team, its sponsors and Ford remain firmly committed to Bayne.

“Our support is unfettered,” he said. “We fully expect him to be out there competing for wins next year. … We have absolutely no concerns.”

As for NASCAR, Newmark said the team met with NASCAR officials and shared the diagnosis with them earlier. “I can tell you, (NASCAR President) Mike Helton and that crowd have been very supportive,” Newmark said.

"We support Trevor and his decision to come forward with this news about his health,” said Jamie Allison, Director, Ford Racing. “Our first priority with Trevor is his well-being. We look forward to him winning a Nationwide Series championship with Ford next year.”

Bayne said getting the issue out in public was a relief.

“You always think about what’s the worst thing you’re gonna see, what’s the worst question you’re gonna get asked?” Bayne said. “And you guys (reporters) are being nice to me today, so now having this opportunity to share this and get these things going lifts a weight off your shoulders because now everything is out and you don’t have to worry about it.”