FRESNO, Calif. – Spencer Bayston will embark on the biggest opportunity of his racing career starting next week at Eldora Speedway, as he climbs behind the wheel for Roth Motorsports.
Bayston will take the reins of Dennis and Teresa Roth’s familiar No. 83 sprint car for the Sept. 22-23 Governor’s Reign at Eldora Speedway, as well as the final 14 races of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series season.
Bayston succeeds Daryn Pittman, who announced last week he would end his full-time driving career after 2020 and confirmed Thursday he’ll depart the team after this weekend.
It’s a bit of an early birthday present for the Lebanon, Ind., native – who turns 22 on Tuesday – and the chance to prove himself on a national stage that Bayston has been searching for since moving to 410 sprint car racing at the beginning of the 2019 season.
“I wouldn’t say this fell in my lap, by any means; I feel like it’s taken a lot of time and effort,” said Bayston of signing with Roth Motorsports to close out the year. “Winning that race at Lincoln with (Swindell) SpeedLab this summer, and then running in well in Knoxville with Bernie and just being good in the right places at the right times … all of that, really, I feel like led me to this situation.
“This year, I didn’t know going into it what was going to happen or why I needed to be in California, but I felt that it was just right. And then with COVID happening, that kind of put a change up on everything,” Bayston added. “I had to adjust and make do, and then I had to figure out how to race back East and basically realized that everything was just going to work one week at a time. It’s been a slow long process, but everything just eventually started coming together and worked out.
“It’s a huge opportunity and we’re looking to make the most of it, both myself and the Roth team.”
Bayston began the year with plans to run the full NARC-King of the West Sprint Car Series schedule for Tarlton Motorsports, but those plans quickly fell to shambles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Bayston did win one of the two King of the West-sanctioned events that were held over the summer, grabbing the checkered flag at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford, Calif., on June 20.
During his brief time in California this year, Bayston noted that he’d had a joking conversation about the possibility of driving a Roth-supported entry, but he didn’t think that anything would actually come of it.
“Yeah, I don’t think there was any intention of me running (for Roth Motorsports) this year, or even next year,” Bayston admitted. “The only connection I really had with Roth was that I was out there with Paul Baines (Tarlton Motorsports crew chief) and Roth is really, really close in distance to the Tarltons’ shop. Both teams run out of Fresno. So we went over there kind of chit-chatted with Todd (Ventura, crew chief for Roth Motorsports) before Knoxville … and I was trying to figure out how to get back to Knoxville, whether it was in the (No.) 21 car or whether it was with someone back East.
“Todd kind of jokingly said like, ‘Oh, we could go in together and take some Tarlton stuff and take some 83 stuff and go to Knoxville.’ So that was the joke, I guess you’d say, but nothing ever really happened,” Bayston continued. “This opportunity was certainly unexpected, and not on the radar at that point.”
Bayston, who has only entered three World of Outlaws events this season (all at Knoxville Raceway) but finished in the top 10 in two of them, recognizes fully the magnitude of the task ahead of him.
He knows that a strong performance in the latter months of 2020 could go a long way toward giving him a long-term future at the top level of sprint car racing in the United States.
“I think this is probably the biggest opportunity I’ve gotten,” Bayston said. “It’s crazy to think about the difference in feelings when you receive a call from someone like Todd Ventura and Dennis Roth, to climb aboard their No. 83 car, compared to what it feels like if you’re going to go run with the All Stars with Kevin and Jordan (Swindell), or Bernie (Stuebgen, from Indy Race Parts) … it’s nothing against them, but just the fact that it’s a touring Outlaw team and a well-established, competitive car.
“I ran Bernie’s car at Knoxville and we ran really, really well against this group, and we’ve ran well with the Outlaws with Kevin and Jordan too, but just the fact that it’s an Outlaw touring car makes it feel even more special,” Bayston added. “This team has the capability of potentially putting me on the road. So there’s some pressure there, to get in and perform well and jell well with everyone involved on the team, but I’m looking forward to that challenge and excited about that.
“It’s definitely the biggest shot I’ve ever gotten.”
While Bayston knows the Roth opportunity opens up future possibilities, he’s not focusing on that part of the equation just yet. His first priority is helping the Roth team snap their year-long winless drought.
“I think (2021) is on the back burner right now, for me personally at least,” Bayston noted. “I’m sure they’re thinking about it, but my goal is that I want to get in and get competitive, get comfortable with everyone there and feel respected. I want to feel like I belong. “It’s tough for someone in my shoes to come in and just jump on the Outlaw tour and try to compete against these guys that have been doing it all year long and for many years in the past.
“It’s definitely the back of my head, and I think it’s a conversation we’ll have, but that’s not what’s important right now, by any means,” he added. “Dennis and Teresa have been nice enough to give me this opportunity to finish out the schedule, so I want to do well for them and hopefully make them proud.”