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Trevor Bayne faces uncertain future as he looks for a ride

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LAS VEGAS — Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne is unsure of his future with the announcement this week that he won’t return to Roush Fenway Racing after this season.

“I’ve called every team owner and every sponsor that I know probably twice or three times,” Bayne told NBC Sports on Friday morning in the garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “For me, all I know right now is Texas. When I get to Nov. 5 that’s the last race I have scheduled that I know. Hopeful for an opportunity, but just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Asked if he could take sponsor Advocare with him to prospective car owners, the 27-year-old Bayne told NBC Sports: “I don’t know what they’re going to do with the sport or Roush or whatever. As it stands, when I go to these team owners and they say, ‘How much money do you have?’ I’m kind of selling myself in I think I can win races if I’m in a really good car.”

Bayne said he would be open to a ride in Cup, Xfinity or the Camping World Truck Series part-time or full-time.

“I’ve struggled and I’ve seen what it’s like to run 15th every week, and I just don’t want to do that anymore,” he told NBC Sports. “To me, if I can’t get into a race-winning car, a top-10 car or a top-five car, then I don’t want to do it just to be here. For me, any opportunity I’m looking at (is) in a really good car with a really good team and really good culture.

“I do this to win races, not to make paycheck. I think I’ve got the ability to do it. I’ve proven that anytime we have fast cars, even Bristol a couple of weeks ago. When I’m in a fast car I can get it done. That’s what I’m looking for, what I’m wanting to do. I’m also praying about it. ‘Lord, what do you want me to do? If you want me here, I need an opportunity. If you don’t want me here, make it clear.’

“I just don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s a scary, weird feeling to think about. Am I going to be in NASCAR or not next year? For me, that is a really hard thing to swallow. I’ve always said I’m not defined by this but when you actually get to that crossroads of ‘Hey, there may not any opportunity,’ it’s a weird feeling.”

Bayne has had a star-crossed career. He became the youngest driver at age 20 years and 1 day to win the Daytona 500 when he won the 2011 race for Wood Brothers Racing. The victory came in his second career Cup start.

Without enough funding, he was only able to run a partial Cup schedule from 2011-14 for the Wood Brothers. He returned to Roush Fenway Racing — where he ran in the Xfinity Series from late in the 2010 season through 2014. He won two Xfinity races during that stretch.

An unknown illness in 2011 that year sent him to the Mayo Clinic and kept him out of the car briefly. He ran 17 Cup races that year.

His results yo-yoed as Roush Fenway Racing struggled. The team announced in April that it was hiring Matt Kenseth to drive the No. 6 in select races, replacing Bayne.

“The first four weeks were super tough on me,” Bayne said of the time after Kenseth’s hiring. “Those weeks were a lot of anger, a lot of frustration and how could this happen? This is kind of unprecedented in how it was happening. It didn’t feel like that my performance, as far as compared to how our cars ran, warranted that but it’s just what God has for me right now.”

Bayne, who has made 182 career Cup starts, has five races remaining in the No. 6 car this season — Las Vegas, the Charlotte Roval, Talladega, Kansas and Texas.

“I just want to enjoy it,” Bayne said. “I love racing and it’s not fun to struggle at the Cup level. I know I can get it done at the Cup level. That’s not the question. To me, it’s more so what is the opportunity. I look at guys like Aric Almirola or even Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano, where they were in situations and got into a good car with a good culture and took off. I know I can do that.”

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NASCAR America: Kevin Harvick’s team failed to keep up with Miami

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Under NASCAR’s current playoff format winning the most races means a lot. It doesn’t win the championship, however, unless one of those victories comes in the season finale.

After the race in Miami, Kevin Harvick was not ready to call his season a failure. He won eight times during the year, tying him for the lead with Kyle Busch. But he was noticeably disappointed by coming up two positions short of claiming his second Cup. Harvick finished behind the 2018 champion Joey Logano and last year’s champion Martin Truex Jr.

“When I look at the 4 team through the whole weekend, they just seemed a little bit off,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “You look at qualifying, it didn’t go well. And then Saturday practice, they had a short run to start off the first practice because he wasn’t happy with the car. He wasn’t able to find the feel in the car. It just seemed like they were searching a little bit.”

MORE: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?

Harvick started the race strong, moving up to the lead on Lap 43 after starting 12th. He won the first stage. When the field pitted, the team did not make any significant changes to the car and Harvick was never quite the same.

Jeff Burton said that indicates the team failed to adjust to the changing characteristics of the track.

“In this kind of race when it all comes down to one race and you just get off that little bit at the wrong time, there’s no time to recover,” Burton said.

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?

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Kyle Busch was one of the dominant drivers of the season with eight wins during the season to his credit and an incredible number of bonus points as the playoffs began. Two of his wins came during the playoffs, which led many to consider him one of the co-favorites to win the championship along with Kevin Harvick.

Instead, Busch finished a distant fourth in the race and the championship.

“There was nothing in the 18 car that was magical,” Steve Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “The 4 (of Harvick) when they dropped the green drove right to the front. … The 22 (of Joey Logano) at times, you said ‘he’s got great short run speed; if it comes down to a short run, he should be good.’ The 78 (of Martin Truex Jr.) had great long run speed. The 18 had none of the above.”

Busch was forced to gamble in the championship race to simply have a shot at winning. Staying out longer than most of the competition, he entered the pits on Lap 248 as the leader and rolled off pit road as the leader. When the green flag waved on Lap 253, he fell back quickly.

“(Busch) wasn’t better in any category,” Letarte added. “And that’s what really surprised me: A team that didn’t have a lot of weaknesses coming into the race really raced with nothing but weaknesses. Average pit crew, average speed, I think decent pit calls by Adam Stevens was the only thing that kept them in the picture for that last restart.”

Letarte went on to describe what he was watching in the final laps. While Logano drove to the front, Busch fell four seconds off the pace.

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Breaking down Joey Logano’s championship

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Today’s NASCAR America breaks down Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick‘s championships plus the best moments from the 2018 season.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. They are joined by Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the Charlotte studio.

On today’s show:

  • Coming off the heels of a memorable Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we’ll recap Sunday’s thrilling season finale that saw Joey Logano become the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. We’ll break down the key points of the race and get reaction from Logano and team owner Roger Penske.
  • We’ll hear from Championship runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who finished second at Miami in his final start with Furniture Row Racing.
  • Take a look at Tyler Reddick’s championship performance in Saturday’s Xfinity Series finale and what it means for his career going forward.
  • And we’ll look back at some of the best moments from the 2018 NASCAR season.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Penalty report from Miami

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NASCAR issued a $10,000 fine against Aric Almirola‘s crew chief, John Klausmeier, for an unsecured lug nut after Sunday’s Cup season finale.

Almirola finished ninth in the race.

No other penalties were announced.