JOLIET, Ill. -- Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne is ready to go racing.
The 20-year-old Bayne said Friday he feels fine and his goal Saturday night in the STP 300, a Nationwide series event at Chicagoland Speedway, is simple: to win the race.
Bayne hasn't competed since April 23 after fighting a mysterious illness. And even though he spent time at the Mayo Clinic, doctors weren't sure of the causes of the inflammatory condition. Symptoms included impaired vision and initially some numbness in his arm.
Bayne told reporters last week that he went through a series of MRI exams, a spinal tap and at one point had 16 needles in him.
Now he's feeling much better, has been cleared and had hoped to race last week at Charlotte, but Roush Fenway Racing officials wanted to hold him out one more week.
After car testing in Virginia a couple of weeks ago, Bayne said he knew he was ready to get back to what he loves.
"I didn't feel tired. I didn't feel anything wrong. I felt 100 percent completely, no nauseousness or anything like that. At that point I felt I was ready. That's why it was a little frustrating not getting to race Charlotte," he said.
"Now I have no fears or worries or anything. I feel 100 percent and in the car I feel fine. I think this weekend will be a good test for that."
The field for the Nationwide race includes Sprint Cup veterans Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards, along with Danica Patrick, who is making her own return to stock cars from open wheel racing. She was 10th in last weekend's Indianapolis 500.
Bayne said his mind has been on racing since he was sidelined. He said watching his crew work with other drivers last week at Charlotte helped him see his sport from a different angle.
"I have a new perspective on everything," he said.
"It's no more of a desire to win, but it's a different kind of desire and more appreciation for what we get to do and how fortunate we are," he said. "I think coming back this weekend is a less stressed-out Trevor Bayne, but still one that wants to win really bad."
Patrick will be competing in a NASCAR race for the first time since March 19.
"I guess whenever I'm running one series I always get a little bit nervous about jumping back into the other car just because it's a different feeling," she said before practice Friday.
"It really comes down to how the car feels itself and getting used to a slightly different seating position. But other than that it's like riding a bike."
She reiterated Friday what she said earlier in the week: No decision has been made on whether she will make a switch and devote most of her time to NASCAR.
"There's no announcement today and there probably won't be for many months," she said. "It's just the kind of thing that takes a lot of time. I don't really know exactly what's going on at this point. I've just been told to do my job in the race car and drive as fast as I can and get the best results that I can possibility get. And that only helps things.
"Traditionally for me these contracts don't get announced until after the season ends."