The fire rises as Trevor Bayne gets a fulltime (Nationwide) ride

Jay Busbee

Back in 2011, Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500, charmed the heck out of pretty much everyone who came near him, and apparently was setting the stage for a long NASCAR good-guy career.

Since then ... well, there's still the chance of that good-guy career, but oh, it's been a rockier road than expected. Between sickness and sponsorship woes, Bayne has had trouble staying on the track. The low point came earlier this year when sponsorship problems forced Roush Fenway to yank Bayne's team from Nationwide contention just five races into the season, with Bayne fourth in the points at the time. At Bristol this weekend, he called the move "disheartening."

Fortunately, the departure of Matt Kenseth from the Sprint Cup ranks of Roush drivers has opened a seat for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., which in turn opens a fulltime seat for Bayne.

"We would have loved to run a full season this year," he said. "I still have never done that. Even though it seems like I've been around for so long in the Nationwide Series, three years now, I still never ran that one full season all the way through with one team and one group of guys, and that's what I'm looking forward to next year."

Bayne will run a paint scheme honoring Tennessee basketball coaching legend Pat SummittAt the moment, this is the final Nationwide race of the season for Bayne, though he's noted that he'll be pushing Jack Roush for more time behind the wheel, particularly if the goal is to put him in position for a Nationwide championship next year. He's scheduled to run six more Sprint Cup races for the Wood Brothers. (Bayne noted that his RFR contract prohibits him from taking a potentially vacant seat at Penske Racing.)