February 22, 2011
Bayne remains in dream state after Daytona 500 victory
By CHRIS SYMEON, Sports Network
DAYTONA BEACH - Trevor Bayne winning Sunday's Daytona 500 became the biggest Cinderella Story in the history of NASCAR. But for the driver who just turned 20 years old on Saturday, it's still hard to imagine that the glass slipper fits.
Bayne, who is running a part-time schedule in the Sprint Cup Series this year, pulled off the biggest upset in the 53-year history of the Daytona 500, though an argument can be made that Derrike Cope's victory in the 1990 race was more stunning.
As the youngest Daytona 500 champion, Bayne has become an overnight sensation not only in the motorsports community, but in the world of sports as well.
It still hasn't soaked in for the youngster from Knoxville, TN.
"I'm not a big enough sponge to soak all of this up," said Bayne, who is 5- foot-11 and 170 lbs. "It's kind of cool, because it keeps hitting me over and over again. It's like you get to win a bunch of times."
Bayne hoisted the famed Harley J. Earl Trophy, but there was no spraying of champagne in the midst of confetti falling down onto Daytona's victory lane. He has to wait 363 days until he hits the legal drinking age.
While 42 other drivers headed home after NASCAR's biggest race of the season, Bayne stayed in his motorhome -- parked in the infield area of Daytona International Speedway -- to attend his car induction ceremony on Monday morning. His No.21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford will be on display in an indoor exhibit area at the racetrack until the next the Daytona 500, scheduled for February 26, 2012.
Bayne celebrated his win, which came in just his second start in NASCAR's top- tier series, with friends and team members at a nearby restaurant. His team owners, Eddie and Glen Wood, had their victory dinner at a Steak 'N Shake just down the road from them.
Bayne then played a round of hoops with the fellas and did some skateboarding in the infield before retiring for the night around 1:00 a.m.
Hours later, he woke up still in a daze.
"When I got out of the motorhome this morning and saw my [car] number on top of the [scoring pylon], it was insane," he said.
During the "Champion's Breakfast" held prior to the ceremony, Bayne walked in the room doing a phone interview and signing autographs for fans. In the past, Bayne was lucky if he got a pre-or-post-race interview in a Nationwide Series race, not to mention a Sprint Cup event.
How things have changed in one day.
"Every time I get done with one thing, my [team publicist] hands me another phone and I'm talking," he said. "I like to talk a lot, but after this week, I might be drained. You might not hear anything except crickets."
Bayne has a whirlwind of media obligations and special appearances across the country until he arrives in Phoenix for the second Sprint Cup race of the season later this week.
After that, what will he do?
Bayne's limited Cup schedule for the Wood Brothers is in addition to his full- time driving duties for Roush Fenway Racing in Nationwide this year. Team owner Jack Roush signed Bayne after he was released from his Nationwide driving duties with Diamond-Waltrip Racing last September.
Bayne made his Cup debut with the Wood Brothers last November at Texas, where he finished a respectable 17th.
Prior to the start of the season, NASCAR instituted a new rule which prohibits a driver from competing for a championship in more than one of its three national touring series. Bayne selected Nationwide as his choice for a title.
That could change.
Bayne will likely contend for the Nationwide title, but NASCAR will allow him to change his championship selection to Sprint Cup if he chooses to do so.
"Jack said he's going to be mad at me if I do that," Bayne quipped.
Bayne collected $1,462,563 but did not receive any points for his Daytona 500 win. If Bayne switches series, he does not get credited with points for Daytona. However, the victory would count toward his eligibility for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
NASCAR also tweaked its Chase format this year. After the September race in Richmond (the 26th event of the season), the top-10 drivers in the point standings, as well as two drivers who are ranked between 11th and 20th and have the most wins, qualify for the playoffs.
Therefore, Bayne has an opportunity to make the Chase if he runs a full Cup schedule and selects that series as his championship choice.
The Wood Brothers originally planned a 17-race schedule for Bayne this year, including the first five events. But the team has now added Martinsville (April 3) to their plate.
It's uncertain if the Wood Brothers will secure sponsorship for Texas (April 9) and beyond. In the meantime, Bayne will continue to be on cloud nine.