Trevor Bayne has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but does not except it to affect his NASCAR career, as he plans to continue racing.
After extensive testing at the Mayo Clinic, doctors and NASCAR cleared Bayne, 22, to continue racing. Bayne said during a press conference Tuesday morning he feels as if "my body is as healthy as ever as far as physically" and is experiencing no symptoms.
"There are many different cases of MS that are handled completely different," Bayne said. "It's probably one of the most inconsistent (diseases), between people that you can see. Every case is totally different. So for me I'm fortunate that mine has not presented symptoms in that I'm able to keep on going, so that's what we're hopeful for and that's what we continue to do."
Currently driving full time in the Nationwide Series, Bayne became the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in 2011. It was just his second career Sprint Cup start. Driving for the legendary Wood Brothers team, the then-20-year-old became an overnight sensation.
The euphoria, however, was short-lived.
In April of that year, Bayne experienced numbness in his arm during a race at Texas Motor Speedway. At the time he thought it was related to an insect bite, but symptoms -- including fatigue, nausea and double vision -- persisted. His illness, which Bayne thought was Lyme Disease, sidelined him for two months.
Bayne has since continued visiting the Mayo Clinic for routine checkups in an effort to determine the exact illness. It was during an exam this summer where he was diagnosed with MS, with tests inconclusive whether his sickness two years ago is related to the disease.
"At the time they were unsure exactly what was going on, and now they've figured out what I have," he said. "Whether that's directly correlated to it or not, I'm still unsure of that and that's why we [are] continuing to [visit] the Mayo Clinic to get checked out."
A potentially disabling disease, MS affects the brain and spinal cord along with the central nervous system. Symptoms include the loss of vision, balance and muscle control and there is no cure, though medication can help manage and limit the spread of the disease.
Because he was cleared by doctors and NASCAR, Bayne did not have to disclose publicly that he has MS.
"My part in announcing this is the fact that we have a huge community of fans and followers around our series and with our platform, they can't relate too much to somebody who is winning races and winning championships and everything looks like it's going great," Bayne said. "But we always talk about all these great things, and they don't get to see the struggles that we go through.
"So for me, that is really the biggest reason I wanted to bring this out. We want to show people, man, we go through tough times, too."
Bayne, whose sister also has MS, will compete in the Nationwide season finale Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He enters sixth in points with a win in June at Iowa Speedway, and said the diagnosis hasn't affected his performance.
Going forward, there will be no limitations for Bayne. He is set to drive a full Nationwide schedule for Roush Fenway Racing in 2014, along with limited Cup races for the Wood Brothers.
"Obviously, we want to make the best of next season and be able to run all the races and run them well, win races and win the championship," Bayne said. "And that is our complete focus with no doubt or wavering on that."