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Six Pack of Pop: NASCAR's 'kid' impressed at skills competition

June 18, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Bayne opens up about Student Auto Skills competition and Michigan changes

Trevor Bayne, winner of the 2011 Daytona 500 who is running part-time schedules in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series this year, answers this week's six questions.

1. Tell us about the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition that you attended Tuesday in Dearborn, Mich.?

Bayne: It was really cool. I see these kids out here, not much younger than I am, and they're out here fixing these Ford Fiestas. I think they put 11 different bugs and problems on the cars -- mechanical and electronic. And these kids have to come and figure out not only what's wrong with them, but how to fix them, too. They had the knowledge to do it, too.

2. Who set this up?

"I see these kids out here, not much younger than I am ... and these kids have to come and figure out not only what's wrong with [the car], but how to fix them, too. They had the knowledge to do it, too."


Bayne: AAA and Ford put it on. It starts out with like 32,000 students in high school and then it comes down to these national finals with 100 kids from all 50 states. There are two to each team and they come out and put their knowledge on the cars and figure out what's wrong with them.

3. And part of what they can win is a chance to shadow you and your Wood Brothers Racing team during the race week that encompasses the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July?

Bayne: That's one of the prizes. They've done over $12 million on scholarships over the last few years, and they've been doing this program for 63 years. I didn't even really know about it until they came over and shadowed us with our Nationwide team last year at Roush Fenway Racing.

This year they're going to shadow our Cup race team at Wood Brothers Racing. They get to come to our shop. It's like an internship program, really, for a week. And then they get to learn with our guys and head with us all to the Coke Zero 400, where they get to come to the track. And they'll get to come to Victory Lane with us if we win, so that gives us a little more incentive to get there.

4. Talk a little bit about running the Cup race at Michigan International Speedway this Sunday. What do you think the recent repaving of that track is going to mean?

Bayne: Well, honestly I think it's going to be way better racing. In talking to other teams and drivers, it wasn't worn out enough before to where the tires fell off and you could go pass somebody after 50 laps. And yet it wasn't new enough where it had enough grip where you could really race somebody.

I think with the new pavement, I think it's going to add a lot more character to the track and a lot more raceability to it. We just saw Pocono where there was a five-car battle for the lead at the end, and cautions, and everything, all the different things that NASCAR wants to see. I hope we see more stuff like that.

5. Does going to race on a surface that is somewhat unfamiliar to everyone -- and not just you because of your inexperience -- actually help you in a way?

Bayne: Honestly, I think it levels the playing field. I haven't driven there a hundred times like some of the veterans have, and the same goes for some of these other tracks that have been repaved. It kind of takes away some of the advantage maybe that they had and levels the playing field a little bit.

6. And Michigan has always been a multiple-grooved track where you can move around anyway, hasn't it?

Bayne: You've always been able to move around there. It's always just been kind of hard to pass because you would be aero-tight or aero-loose because the pavement was older and really slick. Yet, like I said, it wasn't abrasive enough to make the tires fall off -- so you couldn't really pass on the long runs, either.

I think this new pavement will take a little of the aero stuff away ... the car will have more grip. Then you should be able to move around a little bit and pass more, too.