Trevor Bayne understands what it takes to race with the Sprint Cup big boys. He also understands that racing at the top of NASCAR’s rung can be fun, but that it’s also a business.

He acknowledges pressure, admits to the many ups and downs that challenge young drivers and copes with an uncertain future, even with a Daytona 500 victory attached to his resume.

“It can be stressful,” Bayne said from his shop in Concord, N.C. “Livelihoods are on the line at the top level. It’s a job, a way of life for a lot of people. It’s how people pay the bills. But you still have to remember, we’re driving race cars for a living. We’re not saving the world. We’re racing. We forget that sometimes.”

Bayne gets all of this, and it’s why the boyish-looking 21-year-old will make his first trip to Maine next weekend for the 39th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway.

The youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500 said he will travel north to help him travel back in time.

“This race will bring me back to my roots,” he said. “I’m so pumped. I don’t get to do too much short track stuff anymore. I have no real Late Model experience. I know it’s going to be a real learning curve for me. But, for me, it’s going to be so much fun to race when it’s not just your job.

“It gets to the point where it can be stressful at the top level. But if you run good or you run bad, you won’t have to live it through all week. I’ve never been to Maine before, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Bayne is the defending Daytona 500 champ and races a limited Sprint Cup and Nationwide schedule.

He’s a member of Roush Fenway Racing, but only on a part-time basis.

Despite winning one of NASCAR’s premier races, Bayne is biding his time with Roush.

The organization previously announced Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would fill the seat of Matt Kenseth, who is leaving Roush after 14 years.

Despite being passed over, Bayne said he could slide into Stenhouse’s ride on the Nationwide tour next season.

For now, Bayne is concentrating on finishing the year strong — he has one Nationwide and eight Sprint Cup races left on his schedule.

“I wish we had a full-time ride, but we had to take a step back,” he said. “Next year, hopefully, I can go full time. It’s hard because I want to race. I’m under contract with Roush Fenway and I just have to be patient. But as a young driver, it can be hard to be patient sometimes. I just love to race. It’s all I want to do.”

Bayne becomes the latest in a long line of marquee NASCAR drivers who will race the 250.

Since 2004, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Ricky Craven, Denny Hamlin, Terry Labonte, Kevin Harvick, J.J. Yeley, and Brad Keselowski have raced the 250.

Kyle Busch won the race last year while Harvick took the checkered flag in 2008.

“I’m going up there to be competitive,” Bayne said. “I don’t want to say it’s all for fun. When you come in from the top level, you don’t want to give the (local) drivers any bragging rights.”

Bayne, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, will drive a Late Model owned by Kendall Roberts, of Barre, Vt.

Roberts prepared Keselowski’s car for the 2010 race.

Bayne said he plans to arrive at Oxford on July 21, the day before the TD Bank 250, for a practice session.

“I can’t wait,” said Bayne, who, unlike Kyle Busch, won’t drive in the Pro All Stars Series North race that night.

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]

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