Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne says he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but will continue to compete in NASCAR.
Bayne, who drives fulltime in the Nationwide Series for Roush Fenway Racing and part time in Sprint Cup for Wood Brothers Racing, has had extensive tests during recent months at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and has been cleared by doctors and NASCAR to race.
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and can produce a wide range of signs and symptoms, including physical and mental and varying in degree.
“I found out a little earlier this year – late summer – and I just took some time to talk with some partners and our team here and my family and just everybody involved that’s really close to me,” said Bayne, 22.
“I just (wanted to) think about this for a little bit and digest it and now I felt was the best timing to let everybody know.”
Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 while driving part-time for the Wood Brothers, missed more than two months that season with various symptoms, including nausea, fatigue and blurred vision.
He missed several races while being tested as doctors searched for a cause. During January 2012, Bayne told reporters his doctors believed he likely had contracted Lyme disease from an insect bite.
Bayne would not be the first NASCAR driver to compete with MS. Kelly Sutton, diagnosed with MS as a teenager, made 54 starts in the Truck Series from 2003 through 2007.
Bayne said he is not currently experiencing symptoms, but his 2011 health scare led to his current diagnosis.
“There could have been local Lyme’s on my elbow and that’s why at the time we were like, ‘That’s what it is,’ and it was an easy thing because I did have the rash on my arm from a bug bite,” Bayne said.
“I don’t know if the two are connected. I’m not a doctor and I wouldn’t want to make that call, but they wanted to do more research because I wasn’t satisfied with not knowing.”
Bayne said there will be no change to his lifestyle and he is not currently on any medication related to MS. He is scheduled to compete in this weekend’s Nationwide and Cup series season finales at Homestead, Fla.
He remains scheduled to run a full Nationwide Series schedule next year with Roush Fenway.
“From the Roush Fenway perspective our primary concern was, first and foremost, was Trevor’s health and Trevor’s situation and what was right from Trevor’s perspective,” said team president Steve Newmark.
“I think that it was refreshing that he actually got a diagnosis because there had been some uncertainty about what had unfolded previously, so I know it was comforting to him and that’s why he pursued it so strongly.”
Bayne has one win, six top-five and 20 top-10 finishes this season in the Nationwide Series and he is sixth in points.
He also has made 11 Cup starts this season with the Wood Brothers with a best finish of 15th at Michigan International Speedway on June 16.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.
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