In 2011 Bayne made his second career start in the Sprint Cup Series and he became the most-improbable winner of the Daytona 500. It remains the only top-five finish of his career, so he’s eager to finally build on that fading success.
“I would say the Daytona 500 was definitely the race win that changed my career,” he said. “To this point, everybody wants to see No. 2, I guess. It kind of wears off after a little while as far as the glamour of it all. To be a Daytona 500 champion at this point in my career is unbelievable but we are still fighting hard as if we never won it before.
“You always want to win races whether it is proving it isn’t a fluke or proving you can do this or just to win races. You don’t have to really prove anything, you just want to win. That is our desire and competitive nature.”
Last year Bayne announced he has multiple sclerosis. While the disease can cause fatigue, muscle weakness and trouble with balance, Bayne said he hasn’t experienced any problems and NASCAR has given him medical clearance to race.
Bayne will continue to run a limited schedule in the Wood Brothers Racing’s No. 21 Ford. He also will run the Nationwide Series schedule with Roush Fenway Racing.
Even with just one top-five finish, Bayne is the only driver in the Ford camp with a victory in the Daytona 500.
“It is humbling. These guys have done this for so long,” Bayne said. “Carl (Edwards), I know it drives him crazy. He called me after the 500 in 2011 and still talks about how he finished second and how bad that feels. I feel for him. He deserves it. All these guys do.
“Greg Biffle is an unbelievable driver. It is crazy to think that I am the only guy. You have Brad (Keselowski), Joey (Logano),
Marcos (Ambrose), Aric (Almirola) and (Ricky) Stenhouse. Those are some good names in Fords and to think that I am the only one that has been able to do that is really humbling.”
CHANGE ‘GOOD’ FOR NEWMAN: Ryan Newman is one of 18 drivers with a new team this year, and he believes change is a good way to gain a better perspective.
“Yeah I mean change is good,” he said. “If you had the right mentality it was probably not good for those people that came out of those seats and went someplace else. We never talked about that. There is equal and opposites in every reaction.”
Newman left Stewart-Haas Racing for a ride at Richard Childress Racing. Other key changes include: Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to Stewart-Haas; Martin Truex Jr. to Furniture Row Racing; and Reed Sorenson and Michael Annett to Tommy Baldwin Racing.
Newman believes the key to success is more about the working relationship with the new team, not the car.
“(Jimmie Johnson) can talk about it a little bit more, about the chemistry and the people that you have around you that makes a world of difference,” Newman said. “They can be a great group of guys and I can mesh correctly and I can mesh incorrectly with them.”
EDWARDS’ NFL WORKOUT: Carl Edwards won’t declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft in May, despite getting good reviews in a mock NFL combine in Bristol, Tenn.
The driver of the No. 99 Ford stopped at Velocity Sports Performance, where he went through drills conducted by former University of Tennessee and national championship head football coach Phillip Fulmer and current East Tennessee State head coach Carl Torbush.
He was tested for agility, quickness and flexibility and it included stretching to executing true passing and blocking drills.
“I learned a little bit about being a defensive back,” Edwards said. “I realized as these guys talked to me that the sport of football is very technical, just like racing. You have to work on it for years to get better.”