NASCAR racer Trevor Bayne, the youngest winner of the Daytona 500, says he will not let a multiple sclerosis diagnosis stop him from competing. (Reuters)

Trevor Bayne, a NASCAR driver who was the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 in 2011, intends to continue to compete in auto racing in spite of a recent diagnosis that he has multiple sclerosis.

“There are currently no symptoms and I’m committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible,” Bayne said in a statement. “As for now, I want to close out the season strong this weekend at Homestead and then shift my focus on getting ready to compete for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship in 2014.”

Bayne, who is 22, rocketed to stardom after winning at Daytona, then missed five races and was hospitalized in April because of numbness in his arm, blurred vision, nauses and fatigue. He said at the time that he had been diagnosed with Lyme Disease at the Mayo Clinic. Now, though, tests at the Mayo have been determined that the Roush Fenway driver has MS, as does his younger sister.

MS is a potentially disabling disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system. There is no cure, but the symptoms of the disease can be managed and its progress slowed.  According to the Mayo Clinic, “attacks of multiple sclerosis can lead to inflammation and injury to the myelin sheath [the covering surrounding the brain and spinal cord] resulting in slowed or blocked nerve signals, which can lead to difficulty controlling vision, muscle coordination, strength, sensation and other bodily functions.”

“I’ve never been more driven to compete,” Bayne said. “My goals are the same as they’ve been since I started racing. I want to compete at the highest level and I want to win races and championships. I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in and I feel good.”

He is scheduled to drive for Roush-Fenway Racing next season in the Nationwide Series and on a partial Sprint Cup schedule for The Wood Brothers. He is is ranked sixth in the Nationwide Series points standings.

Surprisingly, he is not the first to continue driving in a NASCAR national series in spite of a diagnosis of MS. From 2003-07, Kelly Sutton made 54 starts in the Camping World Truck Series.