Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
Special "We Back Pat" paint scheme will be on the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Right at, or at least near, the top of the list of loves of residents of East Tennessee are the University of Tennessee Volunteers. This weekend, Trevor Bayne, a native of Knoxville, Ten., returns to the NASCAR Nationwide Series after losing his ride earlier this season to race in his home state in the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Sharing a hometown with the University of Tennessee, Bayne says that he's a lifelong UT fan.
Bayne returns to the series in his home state to climb behind the wheel of the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford that will don a special "We Back Pat" paint scheme. That's Pat, as in former UT Lady Volunteer basketball coach Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest basketball coach at the college level, women's or men's.
I've always been a big UT fan and even bigger fan of Pat Summitt.
"Growing up in Knoxville, I've always been a big UT fan and even bigger fan of Pat Summitt," Bayne said. "I have always respected what she stood for and how she conducted business. I am excited that she is going to be a part of our team at Bristol."
Summitt retired from coaching at the end of the 2012 basketball season after being diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's diseases.
Bayne's paint scheme was designed to bring awareness to The Pat Summitt Foundation and its mission to fight the disease.
"We are honored that Trevor will be representing The Pat Summitt Foundation," Summitt said. "I have heard that Trevor began his career in Knoxville at the age of five racing go-carts. With Trevor also calling Knoxville home, it's great to see the success he has had over the past several years."
Bayne, who has been racing part-time at the Sprint Cup level in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, has been absent from the Nationwide scene since March, when he lost his full-time ride with RFR because of a lack of sponsorship.
Bayne was running fairly well before losing his NNS gig. He has five previous starts under his belt this season, with three of those resulting in top-10 finishes.
Despite the limited Nationwide starts this season, one of those did come at Bristol back in March. Earlier this year, he started second and posted an eighth-place finish at his home track.
“I am so thankful to be running at Bristol this weekend in the Nationwide Series," Bayne said. "It has been a long year and I am grateful for the opportunity that I have been given at my home track."
Bayne has seven-career starts in Nationwide Series competition at Bristol, resulting in two top-10 finishes. Aside from his most recent series start there in March, he finished sixth in the August 2010 event.
Bayne may not be an expert prognosticator's favorite when the Nationwide Series takes the green flag on Friday night, but he's sure to be a fan favorite. Not only is he driving on his home track, he's running a UT-themed paint scheme. If there's anything fan's in Bristol love more than NASCAR, it's UT orange.