Trevor Bayne has earned many fans over the course of the last couple of years. His Daytona 500 victory in 2011 with the famed Wood Brothers was one of the most popular wins in recent history. Bayne is a breath of fresh air. He is not considered vanilla, nor is he a robot, however, he is far from a NASCAR bad boy.
He missed some time due to an illness, but returned to the track, even winning his first Nationwide Series race last fall at Texas by outrunning Carl Edwards. The kid has talent. Unfortunately, possessing talent simply does not matter anymore. Until late Tuesday afternoon, if you had glanced at the Bristol entry lists for both Sprint Cup and Nationwide, you would not have found Bayne's name. However, Jack Roush added Bayne and the No. 60 Ford to the entry list, allowing Bayne to compete at his home track.
Ten years ago, I could not imagine Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, or Kurt Busch missing a race due to lack of sponsorship. In fact, Busch started the 2001 season without a sponsor. Jack Roush funded the car for a few races, and then Newell-Rubbermaid jumped on board. This was before Busch ever won a Cup race. The circumstances are completely different nowadays, and it is unfortunate for many of the young drivers who are endeavoring to hone their skills.
In 2001, Roush did not have any sponsorship woes. His other cars were fully funded. Fast foward 12 years, and he is still piecing together sponsorship for 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth, and 2011 Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Bayne is evidently further down the totem poll.
Despite his fourth place showing in the standings, and despite being a strong championship threat, Bayne almost had to watch his Nationwide championship hopes all but completely fade away this weekend, and worst of all, at his home track. Now, the disappointment is put on hold. The inevitable awaits.
Unless a company or organization steps up quickly, Bayne's open weekends will become a reality.
It is times like this when I find it baffling that a guy like John Wes Townley, who had the Zaxby's sponsorship around his finger, would squander an opportunity in this sport. I bet Bayne wishes Zaxby's would cut Mr. Roush a check right about now.