AVONDALE, Ariz. — The results sheet alone makes it look like Trevor Bayne had a clean race Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.
Bayne started from the pole position, won Stage 1 on Lap 45, crossed fourth as Stage 2 concluded on Lap 90 and ultimately finished fourth when the checkered flag waved come Lap 200.
In reality, Bayne managed to overcome a pass-through penalty that put him at the back of the pack after getting caught speeding on pit road before the final stage even went live.
“I’m sick in my stomach that I didn’t win with that race car,” Bayne said. “That was by far the best race car I’ve ever been in. Drove from dead last to fourth in a 100-lap green-flag run. Never got a caution to really recover. We were hoping for it. I was screaming about debris, making it up as I went, trying to get a caution so we could restart. Because I felt like we have by far the best car.
“But man, it’s a weird thing to come back and be disappointed with fourth. I’m kind of like trying to remind myself to be thankful to be here. But when you have a car that good, you want to be where Noah is right now.”
That would be in Victory Lane. Noah Gragson won the United Rentals 200, his first victory of 2022.
Brandon Jones was runner-up, with Josh Berry in third. John Hunter Nemechek turned out fifth.
“We’re gonna clean up pit road,” Bayne said, “and our cars are definitely race-winning cars.”
Bayne is working in a part-time role with Joe Gibbs Racing. The deal began two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway, where he also placed fourth. It originally included seven races but now stands at eight, as Bayne confirmed Atlanta Motor Speedway has been added to the mix.
That’s next Saturday already — the Nalley Cars 250, 5 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM.
“In December, I didn’t know if I’d ever race again,” Bayne said. “To get these eight races is like extra innings. Man, I feel like I’m getting to do something I love again and I haven’t really thought past that because I want to make the best of these eight races.”