Last fall was a memorable trip to Texas Motor Speedway for Trevor Bayne, as the then-20-year-old driver scored his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series win.
But when NASCAR's junior series returns to the Lone Star State for its annual spring event this weekend, Bayne won't get a chance to pull off the Texas two-step and win his second consecutive race on the 1.5-mile oval.
Due to a lack of sponsorship, Bayne's Roush Fenway Racing team has withdrawn its entry for Friday night's running of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.
As such, a promising young driver – who has shown he can not only contend with the sport's best but beat them – has become nothing but a bystander.
Finding fault as to why Bayne's career is stuck neutral at a time when he should be on fast track to superstardom is not easy. And to be honest, there is no one thing or party to blame.
More than anything, Bayne is just a victim of bad timing.
Ten years ago, he would have had companies backing up trucks full of money to sponsor him after his out-of-nowhere win in the Daytona 500. But in a struggling economy with companies still not embracing NASCAR with the same ferocity as they used to, that is simply no longer the case.
To his credit, Bayne's car owner Jack Roush has done everything he can to solicit sponsorship for Bayne – up to and including funding the No. 60 team out of his team's own pocket so that Bayne could run the first five Nationwide races of the year in an effort to stimulate support.
However, to continue to do so over the long haul is an expensive proposition; an owner can only be expected to foot the bill for so long.
Despite starting off the 2012 season strongly with one top-five and three top-10 finishes in five starts – and sitting a respectable fourth in the Nationwide Series standings – it still wasn't enough. Sponsorship couldn't be drummed up, and consequently Bayne will be on the sidelines this weekend, watching instead of competing.
Unfortunately, Bayne's plight isn't an uncommon one and isn't limited to just young, up-and-coming drivers trying to establish a footing in NASCAR.
Kenny Wallace, a nine-time Nationwide Series winner and a veteran who has started more than 500 series races (and just last year finished an impressive seventh in the year-end standings driving for a underfunded one-car team), also lost his ride this week due to a lack of funding.
Unlike Bayne, Wallace's RAB Racing team will be racing in Texas – except with a driver (Ryan Truex) who was able to bring a sponsor along with him.
"I love my team RAB Racing, but I must step aside this week so another driver who has a sponsor can help our team continue," Wallace tweeted Monday.
Sadly, it's become an all-too-familiar story in NASCAR; where talent and moxie regularly give way to those who can cut the biggest check.
All Bayne and Wallace can do now is hope for the best while knowing unless they magically win the lottery, there is nothing they can really do.