It took more than two years, but doctors finally diagnosed 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne with multiple sclerosis.
The 22 year-old driver made the announcement Tuesday, ending years of speculation after he missed five races with a mysterious illness shortly after his stunning victory at Daytona International Speedway.
“Two-thousand-eleven is what led to my eventual diagnosis this year,” Bayne said. “Obviously, I’ve been going to the Mayo Clinic regularly for checkups and evaluations and they started checking on me and researching. We didn’t have a diagnosis then, so this is what has led to the diagnosis.”
Bayne still plans to drive the full 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule for Roush Fenway Racing and a part-time Sprint Cup schedule for Wood Brothers Racing. He also will compete in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
NASCAR has approved him for competition, Bayne said.
Bayne felt fatigued six weeks after winning the Daytona 500. He also had numbness in his arm, nausea and double vision which forced him to skip five races while he went through a myriad of tests.
While he eventually felt strong enough to return, doctors felt it may have been caused by a bug bite, but they weren’t able to provide a definitive answer. Although he didn’t have any reoccurring problems, he continued to be tested.
“I’m not a doctor and I wouldn’t want to make that call, but they wanted to do more research because I wasn’t satisfied with not knowing, so as a competitive person and as a racer you guys know how we work,” Bayne said during a national telephone conference call. “We want to know how everything works and causes and effects, so I just kept going back for checkups and this is what it has led to.”
Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said the team will work with the Mayo Clinic and NASCAR to make sure Bayne remains healthy.
While he’s getting treatment to manage the disease, there is no cure. MS is a disease where the immune system attacks the brain, spinal cord and eyes, which can lead to paralysis and blindness.
“As far as the process from a racing perspective, there have been no manifestation of any symptoms and, quite frankly, we will rely on the Mayo Clinic, which is one of the premier medical facilities in the world, and they have indicated to us on several occasions that he is completely fine to drive,” Newmark said. “And then obviously we’ve corresponded with NASCAR and they’ve had contact with the Mayo Clinic as well, so once you get approval from both of those authorities you’re pretty much good to go.
“One of the things that I admire and respect a lot about what Trevor is doing is he has no obligation to be coming out and sharing his personal medical issues. Once Mayo and NASCAR have cleared him, he’s got authorization to drive and proceed.”
Bayne said he plans to battle the disease with a combination of knowledge, medicine and faith.
“My hope is not to ever have symptoms again,” he said. “Obviously, there are people who have gone with completely normal lives with MS and I hope to be one of those people.
“Nobody knows exactly what the future holds for anybody, but, for me, I trust that whatever God has planned for me is what’s best for my life. I’d love to be healed. That would be perfect if that’s what [God] plans for, but, if not, then we’ll move on day by day with it and at this point I have no symptoms and feel completely fine to drive.”