By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
NASCAR Xfinity Series veteran Trevor Bayne twice overcame unforced errors in the United Rentals 200 on his way to a top-five finish at Phoenix Raceway.
The more consequential of the two errors for Bayne came during pit stops following the end of Stage 2. The No. 18 Devotion Nutrition Toyota Supra was penalized for speeding on pit road. Bayne restarted the race at the 1.0-mile track outside the top-30.
Throughout the caution-free final Stage, Bayne worked his way forward. As green flag pit stops closed in, the Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver found himself battling with Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, John Hunter Nemechek, and his own JGR teammate, Ty Gibbs. After pit stops, he had to contend with Berry, Gibbs, and Nemechek.
The difference in tires allowed Bayne to gap tallow Toyota Racing drivers Gibbs and Nemechek. However, he ran out of time to catch Berry for third. When the checkered flag waved, Bayne was fourth.
“I’ve never seen a Xfinity (race) go green flag for the last segment,” explained Bayne. “We had a bad stop at the beginning and it kind of got us behind. I tried to make up for it in the wrong spot and sped on pit road, so we had to go the rear. We went from dead last to fourth. That thing was hooked up, catching the leaders, running the fastest lap times every single lap and never had a chance to recover. The only reason I look disappointed is because I’ve never had a racecar that good.
“This Devotion Nutrition Supra was unbelievable on the long run and I feel like I should have won with it. Those make you sick. California, I felt like Cole Custer had a better car. Here, we had the car to win, so you don’t want to give those away, but for what we had to overcome in 100 laps – to come from the rear and back up to fourth is pretty solid.”
The first unforced error for Bayne was a short in the electrical system pre-race. The ‘kill switch’ on his steering wheel was engaging after the command to start engines. His Jason Ratcliff-led crew sprinted to the JGR hauler to get a replacement steering wheel for the pole winner. The crew replaced the malfunctioning wheel with two parade laps to spare before the start of the race.
Once the race got underway, Bayne managed a healthy lead. He led 38 laps and took the Stage 1 victory in a photo-finish with eventual race winner Noah Gragson.
The fourth-place finish is Bayne’s second top-five in two starts this season. It’s his 27th career top-five finish in the Xfinity Series. Bayne’s next race is the Nalley Cars 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo.