Bayne to drive full time in Cup with Roush Fenway
May 24, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
2011 Daytona 500 champion to move up full time to Sprint Cup in 2015
MORE: Woods prepare to say goodbye to Bayne
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CONCORD, N.C. -- Roush Fenway Racing carries some uncertainty into 2015 with Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards both in contract years. Saturday morning, the longtime Ford team took a step toward securing its future while resurrecting a storied tradition from the past.
Roush Fenway announced that former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will be promoted to a full-time ride in stock-car racing's top division for the 2015 season. In doing so, the team will bring back the No. 6 that adorned Jack Roush's cars when he first broke into NASCAR in 1988.
Bayne, who currently drives Roush's No. 6 full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, initially connected with the team in the fall of 2010 and began a part-time Sprint Cup schedule with the Roush Fenway-affiliated Wood Brothers team the following season. Saturday, he made a large jump in his career path, a move he called "the biggest news I've ever had in my life."
"We've been through a lot of ups-and-downs, but he and his organization from day one has said our goal was to get to Sprint Cup," said Bayne, who will carry his current AdvoCare sponsorship to the next level. "We always wondered when that day was gonna be. There were times when it felt like things were moving really fast and times where we had to really bite down and be patient, but one thing has stayed constant and that's Jack ... and everybody else at Roush Fenway Racing that have been committed to me and my career."
The move signals a potential expansion to a four-car Roush Fenway stable that currently includes veterans Biffle and Edwards and second-year driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. But with two star drivers in the final years of their contracts, Roush hesitated to say for certain whether he would reach the NASCAR-mandated four-car maximum.
"Our plans for 2015 are still in a state of flux," Roush said. "Certainly the fact we've taken the No. 6 indicates that we have our plans open for a fourth car, but it's still in a state of flux. We'll have more to announce on that later."
Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark echoed his boss' thoughts, declining to have the negotiations play out in public.
"They are two of the most high-profile guys that have been with us for a long time," Newmark said, "but the way that we do business -- and we've made the commitment to our drivers and we've always done it this way -- is that the contract negotiations go on behind closed doors and there's no merit for us either way to do that out in the media. So my hope is that we'll have something on both of those in the near future."
Bayne, 23, has two career Nationwide victories and currently ranks fifth in the Nationwide standings. Though 2015 will mark his first full Sprint Cup season, he's hardly a rookie. In just his second Sprint Cup start, Bayne claimed a Daytona 500 victory driving the Woods' famed No. 21 Ford. He has a total of 50 starts in NASCAR's highest division.
While Wood Brothers team officials indicated that Bayne would complete the rest of his part-time 2014 slate in the No. 21, Newmark hinted that he and general manager Robbie Reiser would likely try to get an early start on Bayne's No. 6 program toward the end of the year.
"I have a suspicion that Robbie will be in my office early next week, saying 'all right, how many races are we going to run at the end of the year to prep him,' " Newmark said. "Now the nice thing is from the Trevor perspective, is that unlike some of the other drivers, like Ricky when he came up, is that Trevor's gotten a lot of experience in Cup. ... There's not the same necessity to do that to give Trevor experience because he's been on the track with the Cup cars -- in fact, he's been running pretty well with them -- but I still think that you'll see us try to position something where you'll see the 6 roll out the latter part of this year."
When the car number does return to the Sprint Cup fold, it will be the first time since Stenhouse piloted a No. 6 Roush Fenway car in his initial big-league starts in 2012. Mark Martin was most synonymous with the number, achieving 35 of his 40 victories in the No. 6.
Stenhouse inherited the team's No. 17 when Matt Kenseth left the team, but Roush said the importance of the No. 6 pervaded the organization even in its absence from the track.
"I remember when I started with Mark Martin in 1988 and NASCAR gave us the No. 6," Roush said. "Of course, we had trials and tribulations, we were up-and-down that year and actually won our first race in 1989. I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it, but as we've gone through the years -- 26 years this fall -- this No. 6 DNA has worked its way throughout the organization. It's been really great to think about getting the No. 6 back on the track."
While the driver lineup may be limbo, a full year of sponsorship has been confirmed for AdvoCare, a health, wellness and nutrition company based in Plano, Texas. AdvoCare becomes one of just a handful of full-time Sprint Cup sponsors in the face of a challenging economic climate.
"We're excited about running for a championship this year in Nationwide and enjoying the rest of this season, but we're really excited about going to Sprint Cup next year," said Mike Vaught, AdvoCare's director of sponsorships. "It will be a great branding opportunity for our company and we can't wait to get to that point."