If only for a moment, all seems right with the NASCAR world. There’s no fight nor fuss over the Car of Tomorrow, the presence of Toyota, nor the dominance of Jimmie. There’s no conspiracy for those inclined towards them, and best of all, NASCAR’s most famous race, the Daytona 500, is not marred by foul weather nor potholes.
In fact, the thought of a victory for Wood Bros. Racing by one Trevor Bayne brings a smile to even the most furrowed faces. It’s a welcome change from the chagrin of yet another Jimmie Johnson championship at the end of last season for a significant number of NASCAR nation. It wasn’t long ago, I said NASCAR needed an Everyman, someone fans enjoyed seeing in Victory Lane. Trevor Bayne is that feel good story.
It’s a perfect combination of the future and the past. Here you have the Daytona 500’s youngest winner ever, racing for one of the pioneers of the sport- perfectors of the modern pit stop, and universally respected- regardless of whether or not Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch is more your style.
He’s perfect for the fairer fan. The young girls find the 20-year old Bayne handsome and eligible. The moms may fancy him as one with whom they’d let their daughters go to the prom, or even a March- September fantasy of their own. He’s not homely, but as a devout Christian, he’s not frat boy either.
Those manly men who are the backbone of the sport will enjoy Bayne as well. He’s not Hollywood, and he doesn’t drive a Toyota. By gum, he's Blue Oval, right down to his F-150 pick-up. Trevor Bayne is more of a little brother quality than a pretty boy persona.
A native of Tennessee, Bayne hails traditional NASCAR country. In a sport where young guns have spring forth from such far flung locations as Michigan and California, it’s also good to see someone come in with a geographic connection to NASCAR's roots.
One race does not a career make, but winning the "Great American Race" serves as a springboard for the one-time Diamond Waltrip Nationwide Series driver. Will he switch gears and focus his energy on pursuit of the Sprint Cup? Will his schedule for the series extend beyond 17 races? How does this shape Bayne’s outlook at Roush Fenway, the organization for whom he is supposed to drive for in the NNS?
While the unexpected rise of Trevor Bayne sets in motion a whole series of questions, there are a number of fans welcoming of his presence into the big time. You'd almost swear somehow this kid was custom created for an hour such as this. Hopefully, the spotlight doesn’t spoil him. Trevor Bayne has ushered in a gust of fresh air into the 2011 season, at a time when NASCAR racing can really use something invigorating.
Randy Lajoie hung on young Joey Logano the name "Sliced Bread" as being the greatest thing since. Seemingly out of nowhere, Trevor Bayne has captured the fancy of the racing public in a way no young driver in some number of years. He'll hit bumps in the road, and he'll have his days where observers will crazy for heaping such praise on him. On the other hand, no less than Len Wood himself sees something special in Bayne. The way Wood describes him, young Mr. Bayne sounds like the part of a young David Pearson.
As a fan of the Silver Fox, I'd welcome that, a guy who races with his mind as much as his foot.