Trevor Bayne: Top-five finish at Michigan is ‘what we needed’

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Kyle Larson didn’t get “most perfect restart” of his career and his third Michigan win in two years without a little help.

That help came from the front bumper of Trevor Bayne‘s No. 6 Ford.

In the overtime restart of the Pure Michigan 400, Bayne restarted sixth – directly behind Larson.

A shove from Bayne helped Larson get by Martin Truex Jr. to take the lead and eventually win. Meanwhile, Bayne finished fifth for his first top five of the season. It’s only his fourth top five in 153 Cup starts.

“That’s what we needed,” said Bayne, who was slowed by oil dry put on the track during the preceding caution. “I went for it in Turn 3 and it didn’t stick. It got massive loose and ended up fifth. Third and fifth, that’s not a big difference. If I went home thinking I should have gone for it in three, I would be kicking my butt. But it’s a great day for our team. We needed this to recover a little bit.”

After the top five, Bayne is 19th in the points. It’s his first top five since the July 2016 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Bayne was at the front of the field even after a debris caution that Bayne didn’t want to see. Bayne and a number of drivers had their fuel strategies ruined by a debris caution with 14 to go in the original 200-lap distance of the race.

“We had fast car early on,” Bayne said. “We had fuel strategy at the end. Probably gonna have a shot to beat (Martin Truex Jr.) if it stayed green. Got a caution and I was like, ‘Oh man, here goes Indy again.’”

Last month at the Brickyard 400, Bayne was in a position to possibly win the race because of fuel strategy. But a caution kept him from having a chance to inherit the lead from drivers who pitted or ran out of gas.

Bayne is still in search of his first Cup win since his 2011 Daytona 500 victory.

“Man, when you’re in that position you have to go for it,” Bayne said of the final restart. “I wouldn’t have slept good at night if I didn’t stuff it in there and try something. It just didn’t stick. It feels really good for our team.”

His top five in Michigan comes after he failed to finish in the top 15 in the previous 11 races. At the same time, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has won this year at Talladega and Daytona.

Even if Bayne doesn’t make the playoffs, his goal is to make a “statement” in the final 13 races of the season.

“We’re still not in the (playoffs) yet and we have to keep pushing and making our cars faster and for Ricky’s sake, who is in the (playoffs),” Bayne said. “It feels good to be in contention. We still aren’t the fastest race car. We can’t beat them on raw speed, but we can put ourselves close with fuel strategy, tire strategy and trying to be in the mix in the end. And that feels really good from what we’re used to.”

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Kyle Busch seeks alterations to Charlotte Roval after test

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Kyle Busch says he’s raised concerns about a couple of turns on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course to track officials after taking part in a Goodyear test there this week.

Busch, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson and Paul Menard tested Tuesday. Wednesday’s session was rained out and rescheduled for May 1. Busch is the winningest active Cup driver on road courses. He has four career road course victories (two at Sonoma and two at Watkins Glen).

Busch, said he talked with Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., and Don Hawk, SMI’s senior vice president of business affairs, about his concerns.

“They have an idea for changes to one of them, but not the other one,’’ Busch said Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

One area of concern is the chicane on the frontstretch.

“When you’re coming down onto the front straightaway and you have that zone in the infield grass and then you turn (right), you have a direct, head-on impact into the wall on the front straightaway there so that’s kind of a concern,’’ Busch said.

“The chicane on the frontstretch, when you turn to the right (Turn 16 in the above diagram) heading head-on into a wall and then you have to turn back left going along the front straightaway (was an issue raised). When we were testing, it wasn’t bad because you could hop this curve and hop that curve, but then they wanted to straighten that out more from turn seven like at Sonoma, which is more of a 90-degree turn, and would make that angle worse.

“I expressed my displeasure with that idea and then we also had the same thing coming from Turn 7 to Turn 8 where you’re braking in a zone and heading head-on into the front straightaway wall to get back (from the infield course to Turn 1 of the oval). Softening up that corner as well and making that tighter and a softer corner where you can … get back on the main track a little safer.

“Those are some instances that I felt were kind of the worst instances. Other than that, I thought the track was kind of OK. It’s a bit narrow and tight in places, but I think you have that at some other road courses that I have not been at that NASCAR has. Montreal is really narrow, too and it puts on a decent show. I think it will be fine, it will just be different. I think it’s going to be about survival more than anything.”

The Cup series races on the Charlotte’s roval on Sept. 30 on NBC. It is the final race of the first round of the playoffs and will cut the number of title contenders from 16 to 12.

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Cup starting lineup at Martinsville Speedway

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Martin Truex Jr. will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville Speedway after qualifying was canceled by rain and snow Saturday.

“It’s definitely a big advantage to start out front,” Truex said. “First pit box obviously, everyone knows it’s a big deal here and that’s where you want to be so you get that clean stall in and out and not get torn up on pit road.”

The lineup was set by car owner points.

Kyle Busch will join Truex on the front row.

Row 2 will feature Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Teammate Ryan Blaney starts fifth.

Click here for starting lineup

Martinsville Truck race postponed to Sunday after Cup race

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The Alpha Energy Solutions 250 Truck race at Martinsville has been postponed until Sunday afternoon, following the Cup race.

Ben Rhodes led the field to green 2:05 p.m. and held the lead until Mike Senica stalled on the track. Rhodes led the first 23 laps until precipitation red flagged the event at 2:17.

The Truck race will be televised on FS1.

Martin Truex Jr. sweeps Martinsville Cup practice

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After posting the fastest single lap and quickest 10-lap average in the first practice, Martin Truex. Jr. also topped the fastest lap chart in final practice for the STP 500 with a speed of 95.415 mph.

Also repeating his performance from the first practice, Brad Keselowski was second on the leaderboard. Keselowski was fast on long runs with the quickest 10-lap average of 94.579 mph.

Sophomore Daniel Suarez was notably fast. His lap of 95.588 mph was third on the chart.

Kyle Busch (95.122) and Ryan Newman (94.756) rounded out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson (93.831) was hoping to carry over momentum from last week’s top 1o at Auto Club, but struggled to find single lap speed. He landed 28th on the speed chart.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wheel hopped entering turn three with 33 minutes remaining. He rolled out a backup car and will start at the back regardless of where he qualifies.

Click here for the full final practice times.