While most of the talk this week centered around the Burton/Gordon scuffle, the 48 pit crew swap, and the championship battle, young Trevor Bayne’s Cup Series debut went almost unnoticed. Bayne was making his first ever Cup start driving the famous Wood Brothers #21, and he certainly did not disappoint.
Over the last few seasons, the Wood Brothers have only run a limited Cup schedule, choosing select races to compete in as they did in the past. Bill Elliott has gotten the bulk of those starts, and because of his status as a past champion, is often guaranteed in the race. For Bayne though, just making the field at Texas would be an accomplishment, as he would not have owners points to fall back on because of the 21′s limited schedule.
On Friday at Texas, Bayne passed his first test with flying colors, qualifying the #21 Fusion in the 28th position. His situation would be made difficult however, as the team was forced to start at the rear of the field because of a transmission swap following practice.
After starting at the back of the 43 car field, Bayne did everything you can ask a driver making his Cup debut to do; finish the race and bring the car home in one piece. The young driver from Tennessee hung around the top 25 all day and brought the 21 home in the 17th position, and on the lead lap no less. He was able to out run the likes of Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
On the Nationwide Series side, Bayne remains in the seventh spot in the points standings, and is the second highest NNS only driver. Since moving to Roush Fenway Racing a few weeks ago, Bayne has four top 20 finishes and appears to be getting more comfortable in his new home as the weeks progress.
RFR has yet to announce what Bayne’s 2011 schedule will look like, but most of the signs point to at least a part-time Cup Series schedule, along with a slate of more NNS races. Whatever the case however, the future appears to be very bright for Bayne.