Roush Fenway Racing's Trevor Bayne has announced that he's been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis following extensive tests at the Mayo Clinic, but that he will be able to continue competing as normal in NASCAR.
"I've never been more driven to compete," said Bayne on Tuesday. "I am in the best shape I've ever been in and I feel good,” he added. “There are currently no symptoms and I'm committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible."
Bayne shot to fame in 2011 when he was the shock winner of the Daytona 500, the youngest in the event's history aged just 20 when he clinched the victory. However just months later Bayne was pulled out of competition for five weeks with a mystery illness resulting in symptoms of swelling, nausea, fatigue and vision impairment.
It was originally thought to be related to an insect or tick bite Bayne received, but doctors at the Mayo Clinic were not able to be conclusive beyond describing the flare-up as an "inflammatory condition." As a result Bayne has continued to return to the Minnesota facility for tests over the last two years to try and finally determine the underlying cause.
Although it's not clear whether MS is in fact actually directly related to Bayne's mystery 2011 ailments, the tests did confirm the fact that he has MS. Bayne said that he had been told about the diagnosis back in June shortly after winning the first Nationwide Series race of the year to be held at Iowa. Bayne's younger sister Sarah also has multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that in can range from general fatigue to a more serious loss of mobility, numbness and vision issues. While there is no cure, treatment can help manage symptoms and slow the progress
The driver, now 22, said that with the exception of the June 2011 episode he had not experienced any symptoms that could be put down to MS in the last two and a half years. He is not currently on any medication for the condition, and did not expect to be in the foreseeable future, hoping instead to manage the condition through diet and a healthy lifestyle. He added that he had been cleared to race by his doctors and NASCAR and intended to continue a full time campaign in the Nationwide Series in 2014 with Roush Fenway as well as a part-time Cup season in the Wood Brothers #21 car.
"My goals are the same as they've been since I started racing. I want to compete at the highest level and I want to win races and championships," he said. “As for now, I want to close out the season strong this weekend at Homestead and then shift my focus on getting ready to compete for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship in 2014.
"I have a great team, a great family and great people all around me. I have been truly blessed in life and I look forward to what my future holds," he added. "I will continue to trust in God daily and know that His plan for me is what is best."
In total, Bayne has 53 top-ten finishes, 19 top fives, six poles and three wins in combined NASCAR races at Cup and Nationwide level. He is currently in sixth place in the Nationwide Series going into the final race of the season. In a statement from Roush Fenway, team owner Jack Roush expressed his support for Bayne for whatever comes next.