|SOURCE: NASCAR Media|
Trevor Bayne finished last in Thursday’s First Budweiser Duel at the Daytona International Speedway when his #21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford was involved in a four-car accident after 52 of the race’s 60 laps.
In eight previous restrictor-plate starts, Bayne, the surprise 2011 Daytona 500 winner, has started no worse than 15th in all but his two Daytona 500 starts. The disparity has been due to his struggles in the qualifying races. In 2011, Bayne started 2nd and was running with the leaders when he tangled with David Ragan and Jeff Gordon off the final corner, leaving him 19th. In 2012, Bayne started 5th, but never led and finished 12th.
This time around, Bayne was again fast in qualifying, putting up a lap of 194.822 mph, third-fastest overall, giving him the outside-pole for the first Budweiser Duel. With co-owner Leonard Wood joining brother Glenn in the NASCAR Hall of Fame earlier this year, Bayne’s car carried a special paint scheme commemorating the 50th anniversary of DeWayne “Tiny” Lund’s upset victory in the 1963 Daytona 500.
In Thursday’s race, Bayne’s car looked just as fast. He passed polesitter Danica Patrick on the start and led the opening 36 laps virtually unopposed as fellow Ford driver Casey Mears held the second spot. After briefly losing the lead to Kevin Harvick during green-flag stops, Bayne reassumed the lead on Lap 41 before Harvick passed him once more. Back in traffic for the first time, Bayne was in exactly the wrong spot when Denny Hamlin lost control off turn two, hooking Carl Edwards into the outside wall. Unable to check up in time, Bayne collided with Edwards, causing severe damage to the nose of his car. Regan Smith spun to the apron in the ensuing chain-reaction.
Bayne and Edwards will go to backup cars for Sunday’s race.
Finishing two spots ahead of Bayne in Thursday’s race was Brian Keselowski in the #52 Wreaths Across America / Highland Wealth Advisors Toyota, a car fielded by his family’s team K-Automotive Motorsports and longtime owner-driver Jimmy Means. The older brother of the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion narrowly made a lap in qualifying after electrical problems, but ultimately missed the 500 field when he finished two laps down on Thursday.
LASTCAR was one of the contributing sponsors to the #52 effort and my name was on the block of text on the driver’s side of the car. Although Keselowski will not be in Sunday’s race, this writer salutes the efforts of the team in its quest to return to the track.
*Bayne is just the second driver to lead at least one lap in the Budweiser Duels and finish last. The only other time it happened was in 1969, when polesitter Buddy Baker’s #3 1969 Dodge led the opening lap of Race 1, then parked after two laps.
*This was the first last-place finish in the Budweiser Duels for Bayne, the #21, and the Wood Brothers.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
23) #21-Trevor Bayne / 52 laps / crash / led 37 laps
22) #99-Carl Edwards / 52 laps / crash
21) #52-Brian Keselowski / 58 laps / running
20) #11-Denny Hamlin / 59 laps / running
19) #56-Martin Truex, Jr. / 60 laps / running