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Bayne reveals illness diagnosis

25 January 2012

Trevor Bayne has revealed that the unofficial diagnosis for the mystery illness that put him out of racing for two months in 2011 is that he had contracted Lyme Disease.

The condition is the result of the bite of an infected tick, and can result in a fever, headache, fatigue, depression and a distinctive circular skin rash, although symptoms are inconsistent and vary from person to person.

"It's such a hard thing to define," said Bayne, explaining why even now doctors were reluctant to give a definite, official diagnosis. "[It's] something that hides in your bloodstream. It is hard to diagnose.

"All you can look at with Lyme is a rash. I had already had medication for it, so it can hide," Bayne added.

Bayne initially fell ill after driving in the Sprint Cup race in Texas in April 2011 when he complained of numbness in his arm. He was treated at hospital and quickly released, but over the coming days started to experience other symptoms including blurred vision, nausea and fatigue.

An alarmed Roush Fenway Racing management immediately dispatched him to the specialist Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for extensive tests and observation, and Bayne missed over two months of racing in the Nationwide Series as well as a chance to run in the All-Star exhibition event at Charlotte that he had qualified for with his shock Daytona 500 win earlier in the year.

When Bayne returned to racing duties in July, no public diagnosis was given other than a vague reference to an "inflammatory condition." But as far as he is concerned, Bayne is confident that Lyme disease is the correct explanation.

"Obviously, they treated me for Lyme the last time and everything went away," he said. "If they treat it and it goes away, to me that seems like a pretty good answer."

Left untreated, Lyme disease can have a serious effect on the heart, nerves and joints. But the condition responds well to antibiotics, particularly if caught early, and the top-of-the-line medical care Bayne received from day one should ensure that there are no long-term after-effects from the illness.

"I'm feeling good ... I feel fine," Bayne insisted. "I've been working out pretty hard again. I know I don't look much buffer, but I've been working out."

Bayne will return to Daytona next month to defend his victory there, once again in the Wood Brothers #21 car in which he will run a second partial Sprint Cup season of at least 13 races. That will be alongside a hoped-for full-time campaign in the Roush Fenway #16 in the Nationwide Series, although the team are still struggling to find sponsorship for him to compete for the title alongside his RFR stablemate and current Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

"We're working at it as hard as we can, because I want to run for a championship," Bayne told reporters during the second day of NASCAR's preseason media tour at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "But right now, it's probably part-time."

"We've got some discussions going on, and our goal is to run him full-time in Nationwide. Whether that comes to fruition or not, we'll probably see in the next several weeks," said Steve Newmark, the president of Roush Fenway. "We're still kind of in the midst of some discussions there."

Bayne also revealed that he had briefly been a candidate for the #22 seat at Penske Racing after it was vacated by Kurt Busch "by mutual agreement" at the end of the 2011 season.

"They reached out to my team," Bayne revealed. "I said, 'Look, I'm under contract with Jack [Roush], I'm going to stay loyal. He's stayed loyal to me through my tough times. If you can work something out, and Jack says that's the best thing for me, I trust his opinion.'

"Obviously, Jack didn't think that was the best thing for me!", said Bayne, after the seat eventually went to AJ Allmendinger instead. "So he must have big plans for us in the future, because we're still here and still racing for him."


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