Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - NASCAR driver and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne revealed on Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but has been cleared by doctors and NASCAR to race.
According to a release from Roush Fenway Racing, Bayne underwent extensive testing at The Mayo Clinic. The 22-year-old Knoxville, Tenn. native drives the No. 6 Ford for RFR full-time in the Nationwide Series this season. He is also running a limited schedule in the Sprint Cup Series for Wood Brothers Racing. Bayne is entered in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide season-ending races this weekend at Homestead.
In 2011, Bayne garnered fame when he became the youngest winner of the Daytona 500, which occurred one day after he turned 20 years old. It also came in just his second start in NASCAR's premier series. Bayne has scored two wins during his Nationwide career, including a victory in June at Iowa. He is currently sixth in the Nationwide point standings.
"I've never been more driven to compete," Bayne said in a statement. "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. I am in the best shape I've ever been in, and I feel good. There are currently no symptoms, and I'm committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible."
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially debilitating disease which affects the brain and spinal cord. Early MS symptoms include weakness, tingling, numbness and blurred vision. People with severe cases of the disease may lose the ability to walk or speak clearly. MS has no cure, but treatment is available to relieve the symptoms and delay progression.
"We support Trevor and are proud of the way he's addressing his condition," NASCAR said in a statement. "We know that he's in very good hands and we're confident of his ability to continue to compete at a high level in our sport."
Less than three months after his Daytona 500 victory, Bayne was sidelined for five weeks while recovering from symptoms that included nausea, fatigue and impaired vision. He had been hospitalized at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, undergoing tests for what doctors believed to be an "inflammatory condition."
Bayne is expected to drive the No. 6 car in Nationwide full-time in 2014.
"We are 100 percent supportive of Trevor and his ability to compete in a race car," Roush Fenway Racing team owner Jack Roush said. "I have full confidence in Trevor, and his partners have all expressed that same confidence and support. As with all of our drivers, we look forward to standing behind Trevor and providing him with all of the tools he needs as he continues to develop in his young career."
Kelly Sutton, a former Camping World Truck Series competitor, had been the only person with MS racing in NASCAR. The female driver competed in trucks from 2003-07.