Bayson Overcomes Mid-Pack Qualifying Effort to Make First Career Knoxville Nationals Final

Spencer Bayston (Serena Dalhamer photo)
Kyle Larson, Carson Macedo and Spencer Bayston (Serena Dalhamer photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

KNOXVILLE, Iowa (August 11, 2023) — Spencer Bayston was noticeably emotional during the post-race festivities on Thursday at the 60th NOS Energy Drink Knoxville Nationals presented by Casey’s after locking into the Saturday A-Main for the first time in his career.

Bayston, from Lebanon, Indiana, secured the A-Main spot the hard way after ending up 22nd in qualifications. Bayston rallied in the heat race to finish second after starting fourth. After that Bayston made a run through the field from 10th starting position, passing several of the higher point drivers in route to a podium finish that secured his first Knoxville Nationals A-Main start.

“I mean, it’s everything, it’s something I’ve been trying to do for the last handful of years I’ve never made a Knoxville Nationals A-Main and this is my first one,” said Bayston in the post-race press conference. “So, for me, it’s huge. It’s hard to describe just overwhelming joy out there just crossing the finish line and knowing that then we’re locked in.”

For Bayston the joy was shared among all his family and team members that pounded up and down the road with him over the past several seasons that at times fell short of their expectations.

“For our team, CJB, and our owner, Chad Clemens, and everyone that’s involved with our program. We work tirelessly and then last year things didn’t really things didn’t go the way that that we planned, and it wasn’t for lack effort. So just to be able to reward them with an A-Main lock in spot going into Saturday, for my family, my fiancée, Audrey, we’re new to this life a little bit and I don’t come from a racing background, so to be able to come to the biggest stage and to just be in the dance is extremely special to me and everyone around me.”

Before Thursday’s success the closest Bayston had been to Saturday’s Knoxville Nationals finale was in 2021 when he finished fifth in the B-Main, one spot short of transferring to the feature. This year 24-year-old Bayston has the luxury of watching the Friday program without worrying about how to make the A-Main the next day.

“It’s everything I’ve been hoping for for the last four years I’ve came here, to be able to go to bed tonight knowing I don’t have to get in the race car tomorrow,” said Bayston of being locked into Saturday’s finale. “I think that’s the best feeling now. I know those other two guys (Larson and Macedo) at the table have been here, done it. They’ve been in A-Main and one of them has won the Knoxville Nationals. So, they are on a little bit different of a strategic plan, but I’m going to enjoy this tonight. Then tomorrow morning, instead of having to get strapped into a racecar, I’m going to sit down with Barry Jackson and Aiden and Eric and we’re going to put our heads together to figure out what do we need to do to put ourselves in the best position possible to go into Saturday.”