Popular Win or Not, Daytona 500 Champion Trevor Bayne Still Had His Worries
By Kelly Crandall On Tue, Feb. 22, 2011
After the realization finally hit Trevor Bayne that he had won the Daytona 500 he became worried.
Not about how he was going to celebrate or about losing his No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center machine for a year to the Daytona USA museum. No, Bayne was worried about how his victory was going to be received around the NASCAR world.
“You know, I can’t thank them [drivers and fans] enough,” Bayne said on Tuesday.
“I was kind of worried at first because they might think I’m a punk 20-year-old kid that came in to steal their thunder. So to see the driver support has been huge to me, they’ve all taken to me very well and helped me out.
Bayne is anything from a punk kid. In fact, he’s become quite the celebrity in the last three days from more than just winning the biggest race of the NASCAR season. He’s humble, intelligent and very well spoken and even does charity work where he will be donating his winnings.
It’s only natural he’s become a hit with the fans and drivers.
Congratulations have poured in from all over. Messages that seem to have become a theme this week are how fans were pulling for him to win the race – even though they aren’t fans of his – and how they are still excited about it a few days later.
So, how did this happen?
As the laps wound down Sunday afternoon and the favorites started to drop like flies, Bayne found himself at the front of the field. No, it wasn’t just luck, all during Speedweeks the young man found himself sitting in a very fast race car and also had the endorsement of veteran drivers like Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards among those who wanted to work with him.
Bayne credited those drivers with making it possible for him to win the race. Saying he wouldn’t have been there without them. Everything was set up for a memorable day.
Fans suddenly found themselves rooting for a driver that was competing in only his second career Sprint Cup Series race. A driver who had turned 20-years-old the day before, he wasn’t supposed to be in the Daytona 500 and certainly not in a position to win it.
When Bayne crossed the finish line though, reaction seemed to be the same from both himself and nearly everyone else: are you kidding me?
The win was a huge accomplishment on many fronts. Not only was it Bayne’s first career win in any of NASCAR’s top series, he became the youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500 and the seventh to win his first career race in the Daytona 500.
He delivered the 600th win for Ford and was the first win for Wood Brothers since 2001.
They hadn’t been to victory lane in the Daytona 500 since 1976 when David Pearson was able to drive his damaged car across the finish line to beat Richard Petty. It had been a long time coming for everyone involved Sunday.
Yet, forget winning for himself, Bayne can’t stop talking about his team.
“I think a lot of guys like to see that that Wood Brothers car back in victory lane,” he said on the way to the airport to fly to San Francisco, the next stop on his media tour.
“That’s a big part of NASCAR history and the Wood Brothers is one of the greatest families in NASCAR and they deserve it.”
It’s a feel good story all around. Everyone seems to have left Daytona happy, crazy to believe but there hasn’t been much moaning and groaning after the first race of the season. At least not about who the winner was.
If you listen to Bayne he’ll tell you it’s for many reasons. Reasons such as the team he was driving for or even who his crew chief is. Donnie Wingo, a veteran in the NASCAR garage has accomplished a lot in his personal career.
He’s worked with drivers at Roush-Fenway Racing and at Ganassi before replacing David Hyder at the Wood Brothers. Wingo in fact seems to have the winning touch. In 2007 he was the crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya when he won his first career race at Infineon.
In 2009 he brought Jamie McMurray back to victory at Talladega. McMurray hadn’t won a race since pulling off an upset victory in 2002.
Bayne couldn’t help but chuckle when talking about Wingo.
“Donnie Wingo is my crew chief and everybody loves him,” he said.
“So, we’ve got a good group around us that everybody’s really pumped for and I think it’s well deserved for the Wood Brothers and I’m just glad that I was fortunate enough to get them back to victory lane.”
Maybe Bayne is still trying to wrap his head around it all. But for at least one day in February Bayne accomplished something that has never been done before. He had everyone cheering for one driver over all the others.
As long as that happens, Bayne shouldn’t have any concern about what his image and reputation are.