When most people hear the name Spencer Bayston they picture him slinging dirt in a Sprint Car or Midget; however, this weekend will feature a change of scenery for the 18-year-old driver. Bayston is scheduled to make his asphalt Super Late Model debut Saturday at Concord Speedway (NC) in the CARS Tour season opener.
The Lebanon, Indiana native has partnered with Bond Suss Racing as part of Toyota’s funnel of pairing drivers with teams at all levels. Bayston has been on asphalt a total of three times leading up to this weekend and knows that the transition is a world of difference.
“It’s night and day difference from what I am used too. With all the dirt stuff I am used to I have learned a lot and know quite a bit about that. But with this, the racing style, the car… obviously you’re in a bigger car. Completely different,” Bayston told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
It’s more than just the increased size of the car and the lack of a wing that has Bayston doing his asphalt homework.
“The lingo, the setup, everything about it is different and it is all just going to take time to understand everything and understand how these cars work is the most difficult thing,” he explained. “I just am trying to understand the racing.”
When it comes to dirt, Bayston has it figured out. He recently fell just short of the USAC Midget national championship to teammate Tanner Thorson. But asphalt is a whole different animal and poses a different challenge for the young driver.
With the lack of time behind the wheel of an asphalt SLM, Bayston finds himself going up against competitors who only know the asphalt way. With that type of challenge ahead of him, Bayston and his team are setting realistic expectations.
“Bond (Suss) and I discussed that. Our goal is to just run all 100 laps and obviously try and stay on the lead lap,” Bayston stated. “If you wreck out trying to race too hard in the first twenty laps you miss out on eighty laps of experience. Finishing the race and staying on the lead lap would be key because obviously seat time is the most important thing right now.”
Unsure of what to expect this weekend, Bayston is making sure he has a level head and is prioritizing seat time going into the tricky triangle of Concord Speedway.
“I don’t personally have too many expectations because I don t really have any clue on how things are going to go down,” he said. “They could either go really bad or really good. Hopefully everything goes well and we can complete the 100 laps and make it through the race and get as much experience as possible.”
After this weekend, the dirt racer will switch gear and refocus on his dirt schedule. He is slated for close to 80 dirt starts this season and has an additional asphalt start scheduled for April 22 with the CARS Tour at Orange County Speedway (NC).
“We are really focused on my dirt schedule but we are trying to fit in as many stock car races as possible,” Bayston commented. “Right now we only have one more scheduled and that’s at Orange County.”
Bayston isn’t the first to make the transition to asphalt and won’t be the last as there has been a recent movement of well-known open wheel racers dabbling in asphalt short track racing. More notably Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson is one of the more recent drivers to successfully make the transition. Rico Abreu is another notable who ran in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS).
Toyota has created a powerhouse in both the dirt and asphalt world and is creating opportunities for their drivers, like Christopher Bell who’s full-time in the NCWTS, to race in both sides of the racing world. They are now on the hunt to find their next “Bell” or “Larson” to push through the ranks, so chances are we will be seeing more of dirt drivers like Bayston and fellow Bond Suss Racing driver Tanner Thorson.
“I can’t thank Toyota enough for providing everything and making all of this possible. I am kind of just going in and learning as much a s possible and I have had a lot of fun so far and I am really enjoying it.”
Unsure of whether his future lies in asphalt or dirt, the young driver is taking it all in and trying to get the most out of every experience.
“Unfortunately it’s not up to me but I think it would be really cool to get a shot at a truck someday down the road or something like that. After seeing Rico (Abreu), Christopher (Bell), and Kyle (Larson) run through there I have always thought it was cool and looked up to those guys for a long time. Someday hopefully, if everything works out, I have a lot to learn right now and we are just taking it one step at a time. “
Story by: Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Bond Suss Racing Twitter