As Trevor Bayne makes his victory tour this week, the question remains. Is he the savior of NASCAR or will the throngs be disappointed as he struggles through the next few races finding his way? Truth is, Daytona (and Talladega—both restrictor plate tracks) seem to create different kinds of winners. You can go down the list—Cope, Hamilton, Lund, Michael Waltrip, and many others. Guys who are competent drivers, but who didn’t do much outside of the two plate tracks. Yes, there is evidence that Bayne is the real deal, but is he?
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Another factor to consider is the Wood Brothers, or in this case, the Wood cousins. Eddie Wood and Len Wood are the sons of Glen and Leonard Wood. They are old school and as much as I want them to dominate the series once again, that is not likely for various reasons. I listened to Buddy Baker talk about the Woods tonight on Sirius radio. His comment that an owner with a wrench in his pocket (speaking of Eddie Wood) is admirable and what I think the sport is, or at least was, all about may not be realistic in 2011. With all my being, I hope it is relevant, but I have my doubts. And I hate that I have doubts.
The first hurdle that the Woods have to jump is that Trevor Bayne is contracted to Roush-Fenway Racing. There is no doubt that at some point that Bayne will appear in a RFR car at some point, leaving the Woods high and dry. The agreement the Woods have is similar to the one Richard Petty Motorsports have with RFR. Roush supplies the chassis and engines for their cars and prepare the cars. Part of the deal for 2011 included Bayne for as many races as the Woods could get sponsorship (and you have to wonder what part Roush had in getting those points for the first five races had to do with RFR’s alliance with Richard Petty Motorsports). That said, with David Ragan on shaky ground at RFR and contract negotiations ongoing with Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, who’s to say that Bayne could end up in one of those cars sooner than later? And that would leave the Woods to sign Ragan or another has-been driver. I shudder at the thought.
The best case scenario is that Bayne continues his brilliance at Phoenix, Las Vegas, Bristol, and Martinsville, and the Woods get enough sponsorship to continue. The Wood Brothers deserve it and the Sprint Cup series could reach a new level.
For so long I’ve heard the rumbling from fans. Yes, many adore Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, and certainly Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Others like Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer. The same could be said for Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano, as well as Jamie McMurray, but for so long, while Hendrick Motorsports fans, Richard Childress Racing fans, and Joe Gibbs Racing fans have been happy, the great silent majority wants to see someone else win. Trevor Bayne gave everyone a chance to cheer on February 20th, much like Jamie McMurray did in 2010, but it has to continue. If the sport is to flourish like it did in days past, it must happen beyond Roush-Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing. The future of NASCAR depends on it.