LEBANON, Ind. — Spencer Bayston and crew chief Andy Potter have departed Pete Grove’s Premier Motorsports team in the wake of a rough Ohio Speedweek outing at Wayne County Speedway on Wednesday night.
Bayston, who linked up with Grove late in the offseason and was chasing the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions title, confirmed the news on social media Thursday afternoon before speaking with SPEED SPORT in an exclusive interview.
Wednesday night’s Wayne County showing saw Bayston endure losing a wheel during qualifying, forcing him to switch to a backup car and take a provisional to start the feature. The night got worse when he flipped wildly down the backstretch during the main event.
While the 20-year-old Hoosier noted that Wayne County wasn’t the sole catalyst behind his decision to leave Grove’s operation, he called it “the final straw” after a lot of other factors built up in the spring.
“I wouldn’t say this first half of the year has been all disappointment, and I don’t regret running the No. 70x car at all,” Bayston said. “I’ve learned a lot this year working with Andy and I feel like here recently … the last few races we’ve been running, we were probably one of the most consistent cars on track and had started making some headway in the points battle, as well.
“There’s just been a lot of things that have happened over the year that have accumulated and led to this decision,” Bayston added. “Andy and I have been on the same page; we’ve both had the same thoughts about the whole situation, and we knew it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. I’m not going to sit here and bad-mouth anybody or talk bad about anyone. I just felt like we needed to make a change and I needed a fresh start.
“After last night, I felt like that needed to be it — that sent us both over the edge.”
Bayston left Wayne County in a tie for third in All Star points, 64 behind leader Aaron Reutzel and even with Cory Eliason among rookie-of-the-year challengers, on the strength of two top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 10 All Star starts.
Bayston admitted that he’s not sure whether his full-time points chase will continue for this year, though he did note that he has “a handful of races” lined up with an undisclosed team.
“I don’t really have too much planned at this point, going forward,” Bayston explained. “I’ve actually been working on figuring out what’s next and been looking at my options already. With me announcing this, my phone’s been going a little crazy. I’m trying to weigh everything; I don’t want to jump in a car that I don’t feel like I want to be in. After everything that’s happened, I don’t want to force an issue.
“I want everything to be right in my next situation and if I don’t feel like something will be that way, then I won’t take it,” he continued. “If that means sitting out for a little bit, then that’s what I have to do, but I want to approach this a little bit differently now. This deal was a bit last-minute, kind of rushed into and maybe not done completely correctly, but we’ve learned from our mistakes and I’ll carry that on to my next ride, wherever that ends up being.”
Despite the setback to his first full season of winged sprint car racing, Bayston has been pleased with his transition from midget racing.
Now, he just needs a new place to call home.
“I feel like my transition has honestly gone pretty well,” noted Bayston. “We struggled a little bit in the beginning of the year, just with moving to a different chassis and learning the communication I needed to with having a different crew chief, so it’s been a learning experience. Every single time we were on the track, though, I felt like we got better. I felt like we were constantly learning and had gotten to be right on the edge of winning a few races.
“We were starting to fine-tune, finally, which is why I hate to make a decision like this in the middle of the year,” he added. “Things just needed to be different. … I just couldn’t see it going any further.”