News & Media

Bayne to push points leader Edwards at 'Dega

October 19, 2011, Joe Menzer,

Remember Trevor Bayne and how he shocked the world by winning the 2011 Daytona 500?

Carl Edwards certainly hasn't forgotten the magic that unfolded during that restrictor-plate race at Daytona International Speedway this past February. The current points leader in the Chase for the Sprint Cup has apparently entrusted Bayne with being his drafting partner of choice heading into this Sunday's race at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

Bayne spilled the beans on the plan earlier this week following a test session at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"Talladega? I'm pumped for that," Bayne said. "I think we're actually going to be working with the 99 car [of Edwards], so we've been working on that. I think the first time we went to Daytona [under the current circumstances where cars team up and push each other in pairs], no one was sure what was going to happen so they didn't have partners lined up. But then when we went to Talladega the first time and back to Daytona for the second time, they all had pre-race partners arranged -- and we were out to lunch.

"So I've worked on that a lot harder this time and I've been talking to Carl. He really trusts us. Being the points leader and trusting me to push him, that means a lot to me. So I think we're going to work together there and ride in the back all day. I know our No. 21 [Ford] will qualify good, because the Wood Brothers always build good cars for the superspeedways. So I guess what we'll do is just keep throwing our hand out the window [to signal other cars to go by] and drop to the back and be safe at first, and then be going to the front at the end."

Bayne has made 13 more Cup starts since the Daytona 500. His best finish since then has been 16th at Michigan in June.

But he qualified 11th for the Talladega spring race and actually led five laps before crashing out on Lap 89 of the 188-lap event.

He admitted he is excited about the tentative plan to help Edwards get to the front and, ultimately, perhaps play a role in helping Edwards win the championship.

"I like it. I think it's going to be good," Bayne said. "Carl and I worked together really well in the Nationwide race [this past Friday at Charlotte] and then again some in the Cup race [Saturday night]. We have a comfort level. We understand our goal and our plan, and I'm going to help him as much as I can."

Bayne did help push Edwards to victory in Friday's Nationwide race, in which Bayne finished third. It was his fourth top-five finish in 26 Nationwide starts this season. He also has 12 top-10 finishes.

Bayne also admitted there is a certain amount of added pressure that comes with being chosen to push the points leader at such a tricky venue this late in the season, with so much on the line. But he said he welcomes it.

"I take it as a compliment," Bayne said. "I was thinking about that earlier. It's just like Jeff Gordon in the [Gatorade] Duel when he was on the front row [for the Daytona 500] and had nothing to gain by letting us push him there. He let us push him all day and took a chance with us when he could have just pulled in and said, 'Hey, I'll just start on the front row with this car.' Now Carl is doing the same thing with the points lead -- which is a little bit bigger stakes. But I think he trusts us and we have a good relationship on and off the track. I think he just trusts me that I'm not going to make any boneheaded moves -- and hopefully I don't.

"I don't want to jinx it. But hopefully we're going to ride around in the back all day and take it easy, and then be able to go at the end really hard."