Trevor Bayne overcame two separate incidents in the final stage that badly damaged the nose of his Liberty National Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Talladega Superspeedway to earn a third-place finish. Bayne, who took the final restart from the eighth position, charged toward the front on the final lap and utilized a three-wide move to score the top-three finish. The result is Bayne’s best finish of the 2017 season and his best finish at the famed Alabama superspeedway.
“Man I am proud of all of my guys on this Liberty National Ford,” said Bayne after the race. “They did a great job fixing our Ford after all of the damage we got throughout the day. These guys just never give up. And in the end on that last corner off of four we got a huge run off the top and got to third, so I was pretty pumped with that. I think we were eighth coming across for the white flag, but I wanted those two more spots and we did.”
Bayne took the green flag for the scheduled 188-Lap event from the 10th position after advancing to the final round of qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The Roush Fenway Racing driver maintained his position in the top 10 until a caution halfway through the opening stage shuffled the running order. After pitting during the caution for four tires and fuel Bayne returned to the track in 13th but took advantage of the inside line to draft back into the top 10 and up to ninth by the completion of Stage 1 on Lap 55.
The Knoxville, Tenn. native continued to fight for position at the beginning of Stage 2 before a caution on Lap 80 gave crew chief Matt Puccia another opportunity to bring Bayne to pit road. After pitting for four tires and a chassis adjustment, Bayne took the restart in 19th but quickly drafted toward the front on the outside of several rows of three-wide racing. Bayne drafted all the way up to eighth in the closing laps of the stage before the outside lines momentum faded away, shuffling Bayne back to 12th at the end of Stage 2 on Lap 110.
The final stage went green with the 2011 Daytona 500 Champion wasting little time moving forward, improving 12 positions to seventh just prior to a round of green flag pit stops on Lap 143 for right-side tires and fuel. Bayne cycled out following the stop in the fifth position and quickly drafted into the top three before contact after getting forced into a four-wide situation cut the right-front tire, sending the Liberty National Ford into the outside retaining wall.
After briefly surveying the damage on pit road, Puccia sent Bayne back out in the 25th position for the ensuing restart. Bayne needed only four laps to improve 17 positions when the race went back to green, drafting up to eighth before the caution came out once again on Lap 164. The driver of the Liberty National Ford continued his climb toward the front following the Lap 170 restart, rejoining the top-five on Lap 171 and remaining there until a spinning No. 21 slid across the nose of Bayne’s Ford, knocking him sideways through the infield.
After pitting for more repairs during the caution period, Bayne returned to the track for the Lap 180 restart in 15th and drafted back up to eighth before the caution came out once again on Lap 182.
The Roush Fenway driver lined up for the final restart on Lap 185 in the eighth position and utilized a never-give-up attitude to go three-wide through the tri-oval on the final lap to take the checkered flag in the third position.
The result is Bayne’s best finish of the 2017 MENCS season and his best at the Alabama track.
Next up for the MENCS is Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 22.