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Bayne says doctors still puzzled

- lowens@charlotteobserver.com
Thursday, May. 26, 2011

Having been out since late April, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne hopes to return to the track next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

It has been week to week for the driver since his health issues surfaced in April.

Bayne wants to return to Nationwide Series competition at the Joliet, Ill., track. Plans are for him to be back in Wood Brothers Racing's No. 21 Ford for the Sprint Cup race June 18 at Michigan International Speedway.

“I am 20 years old, and everybody keeps telling me I have a long time to run,” Bayne said. “I’m trying to listen to them, even though I am 20 and stubborn and want to be in a race car every weekend.

"I would be riding with an eye patch if they would’ve let me," he said.

" It’s all good. I think we’ve waited long enough.”

Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, which fields the No. 21 Fords in the Cup series, said he’s glad Bayne will be back.

“He is our driver and whatever he needed we would do,” Wood said. “If it had worked out that we could have sat this race out and waited on him, we would have done it.

"It just got too far down the road. I am just glad he is back. You guys can see how he has that warm and fuzzy feel again. I am happy.”

So far, Bayne still doesn’t have a diagnosis for what was wrong with him. When he checked into the Mayo Clinic a month ago, his main symptoms were nausea, fatigue and double vision.

He was admitted to a Charlotte hospital the week before.

“I think I finally just had to accept that nobody knows,” Bayne said. “I can promise if I was just tired or not feeling great I would’ve still been in the race car because I’m a racer. But I went to bed Monday feeling great and woke up Tuesday seeing double.”

He said he’s felt fine for about a week, but team officials wanted to stay on the cautious side and hold him out of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

“Last week I took off as a caution, and this week, they made me take it off as a caution,” Bayne said.

“Chicago should definitely be over the top as being cautious, so they’ve been way over-the-top cautious on everything. Even this weekend, I would’ve been fine doing it, but we just wanted to make sure.”

Bayne’s optimism has been ever-present, and he said having his faith was a big reason he stayed that way.

“I think this year has been helping me figure out what I’m made of,” he said. “If you can handle the biggest up you can have and the farthest bottom you can have, then the rest of the year should be easy from here.

“I have my faith, and that’s luckily what defines me. If I was defined by this, I’d be in trouble by now. I’m thankful for the ups and the downs to find out what I’m made of.”

He also emphasized that the support he received from the racing community made all the difference to him.

“It’s been an eye-opener how supportive everyone in our sport is,” Bayne said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned through all this.”

For Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be racing in Bayne’s place in the No. 21 Ford, and Bayne, having been in a similar situation last year, said he’s done his best to encourage Stenhouse.

“I’m pumped for him," Bayne said. "I texted him yesterday and said, 'Just own this thing because you deserve it, and it’s cool that you’re finally getting to make your first Cup start.’

"I think he’s going to do a great job. The biggest thing is it’s 400 laps, and I talked to him about that as well. Also, I told him to just enjoy it.”

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