Stepping into the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford this season, Trevor Bayne knew there was going to be a lot of pressure on him to perform.
He took over the seat vacated by two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who posted a combined eight victories in 2011 and 2012 en route to his titles. So, Bayne knew all eyes would be on him in 2013.
As the series heads to Michigan for Saturday’s Alliance Truck Parts 250, Bayne knows he has an experienced crew chief in Mike Kelley, who guided Stenhouse to both of his titles, and a solid team behind him.
“No matter what happens each weekend, I know I can walk in the shop and have a team that is standing by me,” said Bayne, whose best finish in three starts at the two-mile track is fifth.
Despite some early-season struggles, Bayne and Kelley are finally starting to click with finishes of sixth, fourth and first in the last three races. The recent uptick in on-track performance isn’t coincidental.
“One of the big things that kind of helped us was about four weeks ago we sat down and looked at some simulation; the first time on track all year long that I could compare anything with Ricky and Trevor was the Texas Cup race,” Kelley said.
“I could go home and take the Cup data and run through simulation and find the differences of what Ricky and Trevor had in the same car on the same track on the same day. I started applying that to our Nationwide setups from Ricky before. I don’t want to say it was like a light switch, but it started answering a lot of questions and his feedback has been spot on.”
Bayne hopes to continue his recent success as he stands just on the cusp of title contention in ninth place, 80 points behind leader Regan Smith.