Consecutive top-10 finishes is a first for Trevor Bayne this season but he also realizes that to reach his main objective, it will not be enough.
Saturday night’s seventh-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Bayne came on the heels of his season’s-best finish of fifth the week before at Michigan, marking the first time this season he posted consecutive top-10s.
That’s a big step forward, but the 26-year-old Tennessee native knows to reach the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, a win in the next two races remains the only viable option.
“Obviously, we need to win. That’s what our goal is,” Bayne said. “Seventh is great but we have to get (to Victory Lane). I’m really proud of these guys and the gains we’re making.
“It’s been a rough time through the summer but we’re coming back now.”
Bayne overcame a flat right-front tire sustained on Lap 353 of 500 in the race and improved nine positions on the race’s final restart to come home seventh. With the majority of lead-lap cars staying out on the final caution, Bayne’s crew chief on the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Matt Puccia, had him pit for four fresh tires.
Bayne restarted 16th but drove up to sixth before getting passed by Ryan Newman as the race drew to a close.
What does Bayne think the key to the last two weeks’ performance has been?
“Just execution,” he said. “I feel like the last month we had strategy, things went our way and we’ve gotten results from it,” he said. “Here at Bristol, Roush Fenway always gives us good cars and we’ve had really good runs the last four or five races.
“Our Ford was fast at the end when it mattered. At one point we blew a tire, hit the fence. I thought we were going to get lucky and get back on the lead lap. Got on the lead lap, got a caution and put new tires on it and started passing cars.
“It’s great to get back-to-back top-10s and it really gives us some momentum going forward toward these last two races before the playoffs begin.”
Puccia was equally proud of the result, posting the following message on his Twitter account after the race: