Bayne Diagnosed with MS

Trevor Bayne

"I’ve never been more driven to compete." (Photo: Getty Images)

Saying he has no symptoms and is not taking any medication, Trevor Bayne announced Tuesday that he has multiple sclerosis.

The diagnosis will not interrupt Bayne’s racing career. The Daytona 500 champion will compete in this weekend’s season finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. He’ll continue to drive next season in Nationwide for Roush Fenway Racing and in Cup for the Wood Brothers.

Bayne’s younger sister, Sarah, also has multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the central nervous system. The severity and specific symptoms of MS vary from one person to another. 

The disorder, most commonly diagnosed in young adults, is not hereditary but it’s not uncommon to have more than one family member diagnosed with it. More than 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million in the world have MS, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. About 45 percent of people with MS are not severely affected by it, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

Bayne won’t be the first driver to compete in NASCAR with MS. Kelly Sutton, who was diagnosed with MS when she was 16 years old, ran 54 races in the Camping World Truck Series from 2003-07. 

The 22-year-old Bayne says it is important to show others what he can do despite the diagnosis. He competed in a triathlon a year ago, finishing 38th of 440 and second in his age group.

“We have a huge community of fans and followers around our series ... that can’t relate with somebody who is winning races and championships and everything is looking great,’’ he said. “They don’t get to see the struggles that we go through. We want to show people, we go through tough times, too. As a follower of Christ and as a believer, it’s a part of my testimony. It’s something that I don’t want to hide. Obviously people can relate to that.’’

He was diagnosed with MS this summer - after he won the Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway in June.

The diagnosis was discovered by doctors at the Mayo Clinic. He’s repeatedly been there since missing six Cup and five Nationwide races in 2011 for an illness that doctors called an inflammatory condition but never made clear if it was related to an insect bite he suffered previously.

Bayne says he is unsure if that 2011 incident is related to his diagnosis.

“That’s why we continue to go to the Mayo Clinic to be checked out,’’ he said.

Bayne said he’ll have to monitor his body, eat well and continue to stay active. 

Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing, said that the organization remains committed to Bayne.           

“I think that the diagnosis is a refreshing one for Trevor to understand the situation,’’ Newmark said. “But it absolutely has no impact on the support and the way that we view Trevor going forward. I mean, he is one of our premier race car drivers and we fully expect him to be competing for wins and championships well into the future.’’

Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, says he backs Bayne.

"We support Trevor and his decision to come forward with this news about his health,’’ Allison said in a statement. “Our first priority with Trevor is his well-being. We look forward to him winning a Nationwide Series championship with Ford next year."

NASCAR also applauded Bayne, stating: "We support Trevor and are proud of the way he's addressing his condition. We know that he's in very good hands and we're confident in his ability to continue to compete at a high level in our sport."

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