Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 Ford EcoBoost Ford Fusion, improved 28 positions over the course of Sunday afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Martinsville Speedway and survived a multi-car incident on the final lap to record a sixth-place finish. The result gives Bayne a career high in top-10 finishes for a season and is his best finish in seven MENCS starts at the famed Virginia track.
“This was a crazy day and weekend,” said Bayne after the race. ”This team never gave up throughout this weekend and we made huge improvements from how we unloaded. I am so proud of everyone for their work. (Crew chief) Matt (Puccia) made some great adjustments throughout the day today that helped our Ford EcoBoost Ford get faster and faster as the race went on. To come home with a sixth is a testament to how we fight. Hopefully we can keep digging like this and have another great run next week in Texas.”
Bayne took the green flag for the scheduled 500-Lap event from the 34th position but steadily worked his way forward, moving into 28th before the first caution of the day came out on Lap 35. After pitting for four tires and fuel during the caution Bayne returned to the track in 24th and battled for position until the handling of the Ford EcoBoost Ford shifted to a loose on the entry of the corner and tight rolling through the center of the corner. As a result of the handling conditions Bayne slid back to 28th just before the completion of Stage 1 on Lap 130.
Crew chief Matt Puccia called the Roush Fenway Racing driver back to pit road between stages for four tires and a chassis adjustment, sending Bayne back out for the Lap 139 restart in 27th. In a stage that went caution free, Bayne continued to fight a tight-handling condition through the center of the corner that was affecting his forward drive on the exit. This handling condition unfortunately cost Bayne a lap to the race leaders and saw the Knoxville, Tenn. native take the green and checkered flag to end Stage 2 in the 24th position.
A quick caution just 29 laps into the final stage provided an opportunity for Bayne to take the wave around to get back onto the lead lap as all of the leaders came to pit road. The decision to take the wave around paid off as an opportune caution just three laps after the Lap 313 restart put the driver of the Ford EcoBoost Ford back on the same pit cycle with the leaders.
Once back on the lead lap Bayne’s Ford came to life as the 2011 Daytona 500 Champion methodically worked his way into the top 15 and up to the 12th position before the caution came out once again on Lap 457. Bayne maintained his top-12 track position through a flurry of late-race cautions that ultimately set up NASCAR’s version of overtime.
After taking the green flag for overtime in 11th, Bayne utilized the inside line to move into the top 10 coming to the white flag and persevered through a multi-car incident coming off of the final corner to take the checkered flag in the sixth position.
The result is Bayne’s best career finish at Martinsville and gives the Roush Fenway driver a career high in top-10 finishes for a season in the MENCS.
Next up for the MENCS is Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 5.