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NASCAR Cup Series

Matt Kenseth Returns to Roush Fenway Racing

There’s no place like home, and for Matt Kenseth, a lot of people felt that Roush Fenway Racing was always that for him. After beginning his career there 18 years ago, he will return to the organization this season.

As announced at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday morning, Kenseth will share the No. 6 Ford Fusion with Trevor Bayne for the rest of the 2018 campaign. Bayne has driven the first nine races this year, with a season-best 12th at Texas Motor Speedway. 

“It’s a great feeling to return to where it all started for me in the Cup Series,” said Kenseth. “There aren’t many people who have been more influential in my racing career than Jack Roush and Mark Martin. For them to believe in me today means almost as much as it did when they believed in me the first time, 20 years ago. I’m excited to get to the shop, get back to work, and help Roush Fenway return to prominence in the NASCAR Cup Series.”

Kenseth felt this partnership with Roush Fenway was the right fit for him at this time in wanting to help Jack Roush after all he had done for Kenseth’s career to date. 

“I think they’ve been trending in the right direction,” he said. “I think our bar is on the upswing. I think it’s a good challenge that I’m looking forward to in getting my hands dirty and evaluating what we can do better.”

The details as to whom will drive when have yet to be finalized, but the team confirmed Kenseth’s first race back will be at Kansas Speedway on May 12, and he will run the Monster Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway a week later. While no contract lengths were openly discussed, there were hints of this being a long-term deal with a possibility for Kenseth to be involved with the organization beyond his time behind the wheel. 

As of Wednesday morning when the announcement was made, Kenseth said he had yet to speak with Bayne about things, but hoped he embraced the plan and expected to talk with him next week at length. Roush Fenway Racing’s Steve Newmark went on to add that he spoke with Bayne, and thought “he reacted just like any of us would’ve – he’s a fierce competitor wants to be in the car every week,” while adding that there’d be continued dialogue. 

Beginning with his rookie campaign in 2000, Kenseth spent the next 13 seasons at Roush Fenway Racing behind the wheel of the No. 17 Ford, winning the Daytona 500 in 2012, followed by a championship a year later. He then went to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, remaining there until the end of last year when he replaced by Erik Jones. In total, the Wisconsin native has captured 39 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories, along with 181 top-fives. 

“We are very pleased to welcome Matt back to Roush Fenway,” said team co-owner Jack Roush. “Matt is one of the guys who really put us on the map of the racing landscape. He’s one of the most talented drivers to ever sit inside a race car and his will to win, drive and determination have always embodied what we strive for as an organization.”

Roush added at the announcement that he looks forward to watching Kenseth win more races for the organization while mentoring the team’s younger drivers. 

“We look at Matt as the best in the business at being able to access and make our program better,” he continued. 

The new partnership brings a new company to the sport, in the form of a multi-year deal with Wyndham Rewards. 

“With iconic brands like Wyndham®, Days Inn®, Super 8®, Ramada® and more, Wyndham Rewards was built for the everyday traveler, and that’s who race fans are—they are the folks hitting the road, heading from track to track, supporting their drivers and showing their love of the sport,” said Eliot Hamlisch, vice president of worldwide loyalty and partnerships at Wyndham Hotel Group. “Roush Fenway is one of the most recognized names in racing and the opportunity to work with them in support of Matt’s homecoming is something we see as really special.”

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NASCAR Cup Series

Kahne May Not Be Last to Shake Up Playoff Picture

An unpredictable year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series experienced another unexpected moment in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kasey Kahne captured his first victory in nearly three years, adding another twist to the playoff picture in a season filled with surprise winners.

Now with the Hendrick Motorsports driver in the top-16 six races before Chicagoland, the question shifts to who will be next to win and lock themselves in.

Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott, and Matt Kenseth are currently in positions to make the post-season based on points, and a victory in the coming weeks wouldn’t change much other than solidifying their title bids.

Clint Bowyer has now fallen below the cutline, joining Joey Logano. A win from either would knock another competitor out and further narrow the possibility for drivers to make the playoffs based on points

However, the ones to watch are those with no other choice but to gamble and hope luck falls their way like it has for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, and now Kahne in 2017.

Before the chaos at the finish, Trevor Bayne was in a position to be the next surprise winner after stretching fuel mileage and hoping for a green flag run to the checkered.

While it didn’t materialize, it’s that type of strategy that those outside the playoffs need to utilize to have any chance at making the post-season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the same situation and has mentioned many times that it does his team no good to aim for a 10th-place finish when they are in a must-win situation.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to see another driver make the playoffs under similar circumstances as the series heads to Pocono and Watkins Glen.

Strategy often prevails at Pocono, and it’s a place where Earnhardt Jr. has recently visited Victory Lane after sweeping the events in 2014.

Road courses breed unpredictability and road racing ace A.J. Allmendinger hasn’t been much of a factor this season, but that could change in a heartbeat.

Everything fell into place for Kahne to join the list of surprise winners this year at Indianapolis. It not only has thrown another curveball at the post-season but further attests to the adage of 2017 being expected the unexpected.

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Commentary

WAID’S WORLD: Stenhouse Jr. Sparks Resurgence At Roush Fenway

For a while there, I thought Roush Fenway Racing had gone the way of the dinosaur. It wasn’t in the headlines or on the airwaves and I daresay fans didn’t give it much of a second thought.

No, the team isn’t as extinct as a T-Rex. But in recent years it has slipped off the radar.

There’s a good reason for that.

The Roush organization was once one of the most prominent in Monster Series NASCAR Cup racing. It won races, a couple of championships and featured some of the most noteworthy drivers in stock car racing – like champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch and recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Mark Martin.

But it has dropped onto the B list. It didn’t win a race in 2015 or 2016, which, incidentally, was the last year for veteran driver Greg Biffle. He’s also fallen off the radar.

Once a member of the ranks that included Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske, Roush became an also-ran.

Penske, a Ford team like Roush Fenway, has been using Roush Yates-built engines since 2013 and has won poles, races and championships. So it follows that a lack of horsepower hasn’t been a problem at Roush Fenway. Therefore, it must be something else.

Once a five-car goliath, Roush shrank to a two-car team in 2016. The drivers, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., didn’t have much major league experience. But they did not lack in talent.

In fact, Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers, then a Roush associate. And Stenhouse Jr. was the XFINITY Series champion in 2011 and 2012.

But logic dictated needed experience for both would take time.

Perhaps that time has come.

Stenhouse Jr. won his second career race of the season in the wild Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. In so doing he displayed his skill at plate racing as he also won at Talladega this year.

Stenhouse Jr. is the first driver to win for Roush since Carl Edwards won twice in 2014. He’s also the first Roush driver to crack the top 20 in points since Edwards finished ninth, also in 2014.

Stenhouse Jr. is 16th in points but the important thing is that his two victories put Roush in the playoff for the first time since, yes, 2014.

Roush, known as “The Cat in the Hat,” was one of NASCAR’s most hands-on owners until he decided to step back in let team president Steve Newmark and operations director Tommy Wheeler run the day-to-day operations.

They appear to be turning things around.

Roush wasn’t at Daytona to see Stenhouse Jr.’s victory. He was on vacation with his daughter at Mt. Rushmore.

“We encouraged him to do it because what he’s done over the last year empowered a group of individuals to run the company,” Wheeler said in a published report from Daytona.

It has begun to pay off.

“I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “They build a Ford that was really fast.

“It’s all about prepared race cars. Looking over everything, making sure we’re not missing anything. It’s easy to miss something. You are running so hard each and every lap and it’s all got to play out together.”

Wheeler said the Daytona victory could be credited to Stenhouse Jr.’s skills at plate racing, in which expertly utilizing the high speed draft is paramount.

“Ricky is a hell of a plate driver,” Wheeler said. “You saw what he did. He was at the front.”

The season isn’t over, of course, and we won’t fully know the Roush status until it is.

But with Stenhouse Jr. in the playoffs and Bayne making competitive gains, it would appear Roush Fenway has taken steps to regain its once lofty status.

“Jack made corrections to the steps we were taking because they were flawed,” Wheeler said. “We were going to make changes. The guys are proving they were the right ones.”

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Categories
Feature NASCAR Cup Series

Bristol Favors Surprise Contenders

Restrictor plate tracks have often been known as the great equalizers in NASCAR. The unpredictability that often defines races at Daytona and Talladega provides an opportunity for smaller teams to succeed.

Bristol Motor Speedway may not immediately come to mind as a track in this category, but it has produced similar characteristics in its races through recent years.

Dating back to August 2013, many competitors have posted breakout performances at “The Last Great Colosseum.”

Striking a balance between patience and aggressiveness is critical at short tracks and road courses. This allowed road racing aces Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose to perform well at Bristol. In the 2013 night race, they finished third and eighth respectively.

In March 2014, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. captured his best career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finish of second while Aric Almirola placed third, and Ambrose had another strong run and ended up fifth.

Stenhouse Jr. again impressed many in the next two events, finishing sixth in August 2014 and fourth in April 2015. Justin Allgaier and Danica Patrick also performed well in April, placing eighth and ninth respectively.

One year ago, smaller organizations thrived at Bristol. Front Row Motorsports’ Landon Cassill led 20 laps, and BK Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto scored the team’s highest result in its five years of existence by finishing sixth.

Roush Fenway Racing found more success last season as Trevor Bayne placed fifth in April and Stenhouse finished runner-up in August. Chris Buescher also ran well in August, coming home fifth in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford that shares a technical alliance with RFR.

Many of these performances marked career highs for the competitors, attesting to Bristol’s ability to favor surprise contenders.

RFR has struggled in recent seasons, but Bristol has often shown promise for the organization. Bayne’s top-five performance last April stood as his best non-plate track finish of the season, and his finest performance since winning the 2011 DAYTONA 500.

Bristol is Stenhouse Jr.’s best track on the schedule as he holds an average finish of 10.6. Of his eight career top-five performances, three have come at the track, and in his last six Bristol starts, he has posted four top-10 finishes.

A victory would be monumental for RFR. Bristol may present their best opportunity to achieve this feat and break their winless streak that dates back to Carl Edwards’ win at Sonoma in 2014.

Along with the classic short-track racing atmosphere, the unknown factor playing a larger role adds intrigue heading into the Food City 500. Whether its RFR or another small team, surprise contenders may make some noise on Sunday.

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NASCAR Cup Series

Daytona, The “Land of Opportunity,” Lives Up To Its Epithet Again

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Daytona International Speedway has always been called the “land of opportunity” for NASCAR’s underdogs, and the 59th annual Daytona 500 was not any different.

A.J. Allmendinger finished third, Aric Almirola finished fourth, and Paul Menard finished fifth. What do all three drivers have in common? They’re all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veterans with one career win.

Also in the top 10 was Michael Waltrip, who announced that Sunday’s race would be his final career start, and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who finished eighth and 10th, respectively.

“Typically a car that’s beat up isn’t going to do that,” Bayne told POPULAR SPEED about finishing 10th. “It’s cool to get a top 10 out of a wrecked racecar.

“We didn’t get many of the results we thought we would this week. We thought we had a car that can qualify on the front row and we thought he had a shot win the Duel. We weren’t bad, but the goal was to win.”

Menard said the event was one the wildest races he’s ever been in and noted how his Richard Childress Racing No. 27 team overcame the obstacle of going to a backup car to finish in the top five.

“On Friday during practice, I actually thought it was a little better than our primary car,” Menard said. “There’s a lot of new faces on my team, and Matt Borland is a new crew chief, and we came out of the gates swinging.”

Almirola led two laps as he and TriStar Motorsports’ Cole Whitt led the field to green with less than 50 laps remaining. Both their leads were short-lived, but captured the attention many fans, particularly those who would have wanted to see the No. 43 return to the winner’s circle for the first time since July 2014.

“We had a solid car all day,” Almirola said. “It wasn’t the car we needed to contend for the win. I’m just so proud of everyone at Richard Petty Motorsports. I’m so proud of Ford Motor Company for going to Victory Lane.”

Whitt ran out of fuel as the race concluded and wound up 18th, but he led three laps as well.

“We had a little bit of damage, but mostly, we stayed out of trouble,” Whitt told POPULAR SPEED. “It was a good day. We were running in front of the 15 [Waltrip] when we ran out of fuel coming to the white flag off of Turn 4, but all in all, we had fun.”

With this being Waltrip’s final 500, he felt “fortunate” to end his career on a high note.

“I had so many times I was in the middle of a crash and just missed it,” he said. “I’m thankful that I survived and I’m thankful for being able to run up front, and I’m happy about the finish.

“I’m ready for it to be my last [start] so it’s going to be a good one to remember it by.”

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Commentary

MILNER: Daytona 500 Win Not Best Way to Start a Career

As we approach the 59th Daytona 500, several (relatively) new names are among those touted as potential winners of the race.

To date, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, and Daniel Suarez will be among those competitors who will take the green flag at Daytona without a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win. Each of them has a solid shot to pick up that first win in the biggest race of the 2017 season.

Dillon has found the plate tracks and drafting to his liking, as the only driver to finish in the top 10 in each of the four restrictor plate tracks last year. Elliott, for the second time in as many years, sits on the Daytona 500 pole, a year after a very successful rookie campaign where he seemed on the cusp of a win several times.  Suarez could use the momentum of his XFINITY championship and help from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates to propel him to victory.

While all three drivers would present a great story should they break into the win column with a Daytona 500 victory, the question might be “should they?” After all, getting the first career win in the Daytona 500 hasn’t always led to great career dividends for their predecessors.

Seven drivers had their first Cup Series win in the Daytona 500. With one exception, none of them went on to record more than a scattering of wins throughout their career. Trevor Bayne, the Cinderella Story of 2011 with a Daytona 500 win in just his second career start in the series knows that all too well. Bayne will be part of the field on Sunday still awaiting his second Cup win.

Elsewhere in the field, Michael Waltrip is another driver who got his first Cup win in the 2001 Daytona 500, albeit a little further along in his career than Bayne. After starting his career with 462 races without a win, Waltrip would win two Daytona 500s (2001 and 2003) but only four wins overall.

Derrike Cope, still active in the XFINITY Series and undertaking a limited Cup schedule in 2017, will be forever remembered for being in the right place at the right time. When Dale Earnhardt, Sr. blew a tire on the final lap of the 1990 Daytona 500, Cope went from potential runner-up to Daytona 500 winner. What is not as widely recalled is the Daytona 500 was one of only two wins in Cope’s Cup career (the other being at Dover later that same year).

1970 Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton logged four career wins over six years while 1963 Daytona 500 winner Tiny Lund had five career wins over 20 years). Mario Andretti’s win at the 1967 Daytona 500 was his only NASCAR win, but then his racing resume isn’t exactly light on other accomplishments.

With two Daytona 500 wins serving as his first two career victories, Sterling Marlin is the exception to the rule. Marlin won back-to-back Daytona 500s in 1994 and 1995, the first of ten wins in a career that spanned 33 years between 1976 and 2009.

However, as stated, Marlin is the exception, not the rule. Perhaps, if you count Dillon, Elliott or Suarez (or Ryan Blaney, Danica Patrick or Austin’s brother, Ty Dillion to name just a few) among your favorites, perhaps you will want your driver to wait until Atlanta before getting that first win.

EMAIL: john.milner@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Roush Fenway Announces 2017 Plans

The off-season changes continued at Roush Fenway Racing on Tuesday, as the organization announced their plans for the 2017 NASCAR season.

RFR will become a two-car team next season as Trevor Bayne will continue to pilot the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 17 Fastenal Ford in NASCAR’s top series.

The team will lease its charter from the No. 16 car and driver Chris Buescher to JTG Daugherty Racing next season.

Veteran crew chief Matt Puccia will continue to call the shots for the No. 6 team and Brian Pattie, who served as crew chief for Greg Biffle and the No. 16 car last season will now be on the pit box for Stenhouse and the No. 17 team. Nick Sandler, who served as the No. 17 crew chief the last two seasons, has been named Director of Engineering.

Also, Kevin Kidd and Tommy Wheeler will lead Roush Fenway’s overall competition efforts going forward. Kidd will assume the role of Competition Director and Wheeler will serve as the team’s Operations Director.

“We have been able to shore up our plans for 2017 and we feel that this will continue to move us in a direction that will yield improved performance and results,” said Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush. “We saw improvement in our cars and made substantial gains in our performance at times last season, and we will continue to build on that by maintaining a robust engineering group in order to take the next step by consistently running up front.”

Roush Fenway, the winningest team in NASCAR history, is looking to rebound from a dismal 2016 campaign, which saw zero wins and all three of its Cup Series teams fail to finish inside the top 20 in points. Notably, Biffle already announced he was leaving the organization to look for another opportunity, while Robbie Reiser was relieved of his role as general manager but will have a new position within the organization.

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Roush Fenway Looking Like Its 2015 Self Again

It wasn’t an outstanding first half of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season for Roush Fenway Racing, but it was certainly better than the entire 2015 campaign.

Among the three Roush Fenway drivers — Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, and Greg Biffle — the team had nine top 10s, four top fives, and a pole in the first 18 points races this year.

Minus the pole award, that’s what Roush Fenway had accumulated in all of 2015. There were also no Chase drivers from the Ford Racing stable, which had never happened since the playoff format’s inception in 2004.

Things were looking a little more promising this year for the organization — especially with Bayne. He seemed to be the most improved Cup driver from 2015 with three qualifying efforts in the top 10 through the first eight races. He also made a statement about his superspeedway abilities, validating that his 2011 Daytona 500 win wasn’t a fluke.

He led 22 laps at Talladega Superspeedway in May but ended up with a 10th-place result. Still, he proved that he knows how to get it done on NASCAR’s biggest tracks.

Biffle won the pole at Daytona International Speedway in July — the first for Roush Fenway since Carl Edwards won it at Texas Motor Speedway in Nov. 2013. Stenhouse has three top fives this year, which is a career best for the fourth-year Cup driver.

However, the last 10 races haven’t been as encouraging as the first 18 events.

Bayne, who was in the Chase discussion earlier this year, tailed off as the regular season ended and missed the playoffs along with his two Roush teammates.

He and Biffle each have one top 10 in the last 10 races, while Stenhouse has two top 10s in that span, including a runner-up finish at Bristol. But among the trio, there have only been 15 laps led (all by Biffle) and not a qualifying effort better than 14th.

They look like their 2015 selves again. Not good.

The team that was once a championship-winning powerhouse in the Cup garage still has a lot of work to do. The lone bright spot in the past two years has been Chris Buescher, who won the 2015 XFINITY Series title.

He also made the Sprint Cup Chase this year by winning the rain-shortened event at Pocono Raceway this summer, but with Front Row Motorsports — he’s technically not a Roush driver even though he is under a long-term contract with the team.

So what’s next for Roush Fenway? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. It looks like all three drivers are signed through 2017. There has been some talk of Buescher moving into one of Roush’s Cup cars in the near future, but that remains to be seen.

Roush Fenway either must get better with the drivers they have or some drivers’ seats are going to be changed.

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Commentary

CARLSON: 5 Drivers Currently Feeling Chase Pressure

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hits the dog days of summer, the barometric pressure is most certainly rising for some drivers this weekend in Watkins Glen.

Here’s a short list of who needs to capitalize on the season’s final road course with just five races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

AJ Allmendinger
There’s no driver in the field placing more emphasis on winning than ‘Dinger, and the No. 47 team. His lone Sprint Cup Series win came here in 2014, and he has four top-10s in his seven starts. Last season, he qualified on the front row, only to have a mechanical issue spoil his effort. Allmendinger also has road course wins at Elkhart Lake and Mid-Ohio in the XFINITY Series, making him a favorite heading into Sunday’s Cheez-It 355. Currently 21st in the standings, he needs a win to leapfrog himself into the Chase.

Trevor Bayne
Bayne will be running double-duty at Watkins Glen as he is making just his second career Cup start at the New York road course. He is on the outside looking in of the Chase and will most likely need to gain 28 points and catch Kyle Larson, assuming Chris Buescher will crack the top-30. Notably, Bayne finished 22nd last season at the Glen. Currently 17th in the standings, he is the highest-running Ford out of the Roush Fenway Racing stable, a team which had no drivers to the Chase last season.

Chris Buescher
Who thought winning put more pressure on drivers to make the Chase? Well, Chris Buescher is experiencing exactly that as he comes into The Glen just six points outside of the top-30, the benchmark required to gain entry into NASCAR’s playoffs. There’s not a large notebook for Buescher this weekend, as far as the Cup Series goes, as he finished 37th there last season in his lone Cup start to go with a third-place finish in the XFINITY Series last season. He caught NASCAR by surprise last weekend with his win at Pocono, and he has been the talk of the garage this week. His goal is to finish ahead of David Ragan, who currently holds the 30th spot in the standings.

Clint Bowyer
Bowyer has the potential to blow up the Chase picture this weekend. He has had a dismal season in his stepping-stone season at HScott Motorsports, but he’s turned himself into a pretty good road course racer. He’s never won at Watkins Glen but does have four top-10s to his name. At Sonoma, though technically different than The Glen, he boasts eight top-10s in 11 starts, including a win. Sitting 25th in the standings, the only way Bowyer can bust into the Chase is with a win. Looking at the races remaining, Watkins Glen is his best shot in an otherwise lost season.

Kyle Larson
The noise is getting louder for Larson to get his first Sprint Cup Series win. Most experts predicted he would certainly have a win under his belt by now, but it just hasn’t happened. He’s had good runs spoiled by bad luck, and just hasn’t put together a complete race. That said, he is currently in the Chase field, but hanging on by a thread. If Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher both make it into the Chase, that puts Larson on the outside looking in. Watkins Glen is not a place he’s enjoyed much success, having just one top-10 in two Cup starts, and no top-10s in three XFINITY starts.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Bayne Hoping Seat-Time Pays Off

Trevor Bayne is eight points short of making the field for the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup as it stands.

With Chris Buescher’s victory last weekend, and assuming Buescher avoids catastrophe in the lead-up to the Chase and can erase the six-point deficit he is currently facing as a result of being outside the top-30 in points, Bayne is facing even longer odds.

If Buescher gets into the Chase, that pushes Kasey Kahne out, and the last driver in would be Kyle Larson.

Larson is 28 points ahead of Bayne with five races remaining until the Chase begins.

That’s why Bayne will be running double-duty this weekend at Watkins Glen International.

Along with making his second career Cup start in the Cheez-It 355 on Sunday, Bayne will also be competing in the XFINITY Series in the No. 60 AdvoCare Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing.

Buescher won the XFINITY Series title last year driving the No. 60 Roush Fenway entry.

“Double-duty will definitely be fun this weekend at Watkins Glen,” Bayne said. “It’s been a while since we’ve raced in the XFINITY Series and I’m really excited to have AdvoCare on board for both races this weekend.”

Add a brand new repave, and Trevor Bayne has his work cut out for him this weekend, but he’ll have a leg up on the other Sprint Cup competitors by the time Sunday rolls around.

“Getting to race in the XFINITY race will be a huge help for Sunday,” he said. “With the track being freshly repaved, it will be very fast and unpredictable. This extra track time will allow me to get as many laps as possible to help us get comfortable and try to gain the most points possible toward the Chase come Sunday.”

Bayne last competed in the XFINITY Series in 2014 before going full-time in the Cup Series for Roush Fenway Racing and finished 29th in the standings as a rookie last year.

Saturday’s race will mark Bayne’s fifth career XFINITY Series start at The Glen, where he has two top-10s.

He finished 22nd in his lone Watkins Glen Sprint Cup start last season.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com
TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.