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Trevor Bayne return date set

25 May 2011

Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will return to driving duties on June 4, his Nationwide Series team Roush Fenway Racing announced on Wednesday.

All being well, he will then make his next Sprint Cup start in the #21 Wood Brothers Ford two weeks later at Michigan on June 18.

The 20-year-old surprise winner of The Great American Race in February has been sidelined for four Nationwide events since being hospitalised for a week for symptoms of swelling, nausea, fatigue and vision impairment, originally thought to be related to an insect or tick bite Bayne received after the Cup race at Martinsville in early April.

Last weekend he also had to miss the prestigious All-Star Race for which he gained entry with his Daytona win. He will also miss this coming weekend's Nationwide race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Top Gear 300 which may see the series debut of former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

"Of course, Trevor is a competitor and he wanted to be back on the racetrack this weekend," said Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark. "However, we feel it is in his best interest for us to exercise an abundance of caution with this matter and withhold him from racing this weekend — especially considering the length of the races and the fact that Trevor is just starting to get back into his daily routine.

"Although Trevor would have preferred to compete in all 900 miles this weekend, he respects and understands our decision and will shift his considerable focus to his return at Chicagoland next weekend."

Bayne last raced at the Sprint Cup event at Talladega on April 17, before being sent to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for tests which turned into a week-long stay. It's not clear whether doctors ever confirmed a diagnosis of Bayne's condition or the source of Bayne's symptoms, but they were said to have responded well to medication in the meantime.

"By all standards Trevor had a great week," said Newmark. "His symptoms have completely subsided ... As a result, we plan to have him back in competition next week in Chicago, and have consulted with his doctors at the Mayo Clinic and the NASCAR medical staff about that timetable."

The team had allowed Bayne to get back to some testing this week, including running a Nationwide car at the road track at the Virginia International Raceway on Tuesday. "[Trevor] had one of the fastest Nationwide Series cars on the racetrack and his team was extremely pleased with his progress," said Newmark.

Filling in for Bayne, Sprint Cup regular Matt Kenseth will drive the #16 in Saturday's Top Gear 300 at Charlotte in his 20th Nationwide start.

"Charlotte has always been a good track for both me and Roush Fenway in the Nationwide Series," said Kenseth. "I'm excited to be a part of the three-car Fastenal fleet that we'll have out there on Saturday and hopefully one of us will end up back in victory lane."

In the first two Nationwide races for which he was absent, Bayne's seat was taken by 18-year-old Roush Fenway development driver Chris Buescher, who finished a solid 17th place in both races. The #16 was taken over by Kevin Swindell, 17-year-old son of Sprint Car legend Sammy Swindell, for last week's race at Dover International Speedway, but Swindell's race ended early when he was involved in an accident with Alex Kennedy, for which Kennedy was subsequently summoned to the NASCAR hauler. But the team then opted not to replace Bayne as last weekend's Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway, the John Deere Dealers 250.

The race was won by another Roush Fenway driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in what was his first series career win and following that success, Wood Brothers have opted to give Stenhouse a chance in their part-time Sprint Cup campaign by allowing him to fill in for Bayne at this weekend's Coca Cola 600 race, at which Bayne was due to run in the team's #21.

"Obviously its not the circumstances that you want to make your first Sprint Cup start," Stenhouse said. "But you grow up dreaming about this moment and I am excited and grateful for the opportunity ... Trevor is a very good friend of mine and he's going to be around this weekend and I know that his help with the transition will be instrumental."

"We can't wait to have Trevor back with us, but we can't think of a better driver to fill in than Ricky," said Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood.


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