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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Bayne of Daytona’s existence?

The youngest driver to win the Great American Race gave the historic Wood Brothers team (the oldest team in NASCAR) its fifth Daytona 500 victory, but its first since 1976 with David Pearson, and Bayne did it in a No. 21 Ford that was retrofitted to resemble Pearson's famed ride. In just his second Sprint Cup start, the 20-year-old Bayne stunned NASCAR's biggest names with a thrilling overtime win Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, holding off Carl Edwards after fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed in NASCAR's first attempt at a green-white-checkered flag finish. Earnhardt had an amazing time trial and was sitting in the pole position to start race making him one of the favorites both in Vegas as well as in some sentimental hearts. It wasn’t just DEJ who got off to the rough start three of the team's four cars, including five-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, were involved in a 14-car wreck early in the 500-mile race Sunday. Four-time series champ Jeff Gordon, who started on the front row, and veteran Mark Martin also sustained damage in the melee. However, Earnhardt Jr. did avoid the mess and was running with the leaders in the begging but his teammates weren't as fortunate. Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet was crumpled front and back, forcing the team to the garage area for major repairs. He returned to the race 30 laps down, essentially running for points while extending his winless streak to 66 races. Ok, enough of who didn’t get it done and more about who did. Trevor Bayne became the youngest winner in NASCAR history just one day after his 20th Birthday, even had to cancel his previous birthday plans because of all his television and print bookings. In fact it was his first appearance behind the wheel at the track so some will write this off as beginners luck but the truth is that the kid kept his cool the entire race, made the most of the opportunities when they came, and gave even some of the vets a lesson in drafting and teamwork when all was said and done. For fans of other teams or drivers that are trying to write this one off, please keep in mind how many of the holders of the racing headlines have not seen the winner’s circle at Daytona that may have to step up their game after Sunday, because if they do believe that had things gone a little different, they would have been the one popin’ champagne, then if they never get that close again Trevor will truly be the ba(y)ne of their existence.

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