He insists he’s as fit as ever.
Kenseth was hired by Roush Fenway Racing this week to split races in the No. 6 Ford with Bayne, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013.
Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and former Cup champion, has been tasked with mentoring Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. while helping Roush get back to a consistently competitive level.
Bayne, who won at Daytona in 2011 in his second career start, is to race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. He took no questions Friday but made a statement outside his Roush hauler to address the Kenseth hiring, which amounts to a demotion.
”I am as fit physically, mentally and spiritually as I have ever been to do my job well,” Bayne said. ”The second part is that my desire is still as it has always been since I was 5 years old to come to the track every weekend to contend for wins and championships and be a driver at the top level in the Cup Series.
”Nothing there has changed. I am still going to pursue that because I feel I have the ability to do that.”
Bayne made the statement knowing his situation would be a hot topic around the track and hoping this would minimize any distraction.
His performance has declined through the first nine races. Bayne’s average finish is 23.9, compared with 19.5 last year. He’s 25th in the standings.
Stenhouse has spoken to Bayne about Kenseth’s arrival.
”I told him that I have been through this in a totally different series and probably a lot different stage in life,” Stenhouse said. ”I told him just to keep his head down, go out and keep running races and prove to everybody that you have what it takes and don’t really listen to anything from the fans, media or other teams and just do your deal. That was the feedback that I gave him.”
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