There will always be added pressure when drivers return to their home state to compete at what they consider their home track.
Add that to the list of pressures facing Knoxville, Tenn.’s, Trevor Bayne when he arrives at Bristol Motor Speedway in the northeastern corner of the Volunteer State for Saturday’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300.
This season marks the first time since 2010 the driver best known for his 2011 Daytona 500 victory will compete full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Last year, Bayne only started six races, finishing 32nd in overall points. His best finish was fourth at Las Vegas.
Competing in front of family and friends and racing full-time, however, aren’t his only pressures. Bayne has some pretty big shoes to fill. He replaces two-time reigning Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was promoted to a full-time NSCS ride, in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.
Mike Kelley, Stenhouse’s crew chief for both championship seasons, remains atop the pit box this season to help guide Bayne to what they both hope is a title-winning campaign.
Although he is facing pressure to perform and prove to everyone that he can be a title contender, Bayne is currently holding his own in the standings at eighth. A solid performance this Saturday could go a long way in relieving some of that pressure.
In eight visits to “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” Bayne has one top-five and two top-10 finishes. In last year’s spring race, he led 64 laps and finished eighth after starting second.