Rookie Trevor Bayne surprise winner in Daytona 500|
Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - This year's Daytona 500 had everything
you could ask for in NASCAR's biggest event of the season. Sunday's race
featured a record 74 lead changes, 22 different leaders and 16 cautions before
a rookie driver surprisingly drove into victory lane at Daytona International
One day after turning 20 years old, Trevor Bayne got the birthday present of a
lifetime by winning the Daytona 500. Bayne became the youngest winner in the
53-year history of the race. Jeff Gordon held the record when he won the 1997
Daytona 500 at the age of 25.
Bayne's first Sprint Cup Series victory came in just his second start.
After taking the checkered flag in the race, which took 208 laps to complete,
Bayne had to ask his No.21 Wood Brothers Racing team over the radio for
directions to victory lane.
"I don't know where to even go," he told his team.
Bayne inherited the lead for the first time when NASCAR penalized David Ragan
for changing his lane position just before the restart in the first of two
green-white-checkered attempts. Ragan held the top spot in the closing laps
when a multi-car wreck involving Kurt Busch, Regan Smith, Ryan Newman, Clint
Bowyer and Denny Hamlin occurred on the backstretch, setting up the
initial two-lap overtime finish.
Another accident on the backstretch, with this one involving race favorite
Dale Earnhardt Jr., set up the second two-lap sprint to the finish. Carl
Edwards, David Gilliland and Bobby Labonte made a last-lap effort to pass
Bayne, but Bayne remained in front of them to cross the finish line first.
"Our first Daytona 500, are you kidding me," a jubilant Bayne said. "To win
our first one in our second Cup race, this is just incredible. I can't thank
the [drivers] that worked with me all day. There were 10 or 15 different
drivers that pushed me. Carl helped me there to get across the line. I don't
know what happened with David there at that one point. Wow, this is
Bayne led just the final six laps in the 208-lap race.
He delivered the Wood Brothers its fifth Daytona 500 victory. Soon-to-be Hall
of Fame Inductee David Pearson gave the storied racing team its last win in
this race in 1976. Bayne also provided Ford its 600th win in NASCAR's top
"How cool is it to see the Wood Brothers back in victory lane," he said.
Wood Brothers Racing, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010, has now
won a Cup in each of the last seven decades. The team's last victory came with
driver Elliott Sadler in March 2001 at Bristol, TN.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," team co-owner Eddie Wood said. "We struggled
so much in the past couple years just to make the Daytona 500, much less win
Bayne is a Nationwide Series regular, but has yet to win a race in NASCAR's
second-tier series. Despite collecting $1,462,563, he did not receive any
points for his Daytona 500 win. Bayne chose to earn championship points in
Nationwide at the start of the season. NASCAR has instituted a new rule which
prohibits drivers to compete for a championship in more than one of its three
national touring series.
Therefore, second-place finisher Edwards leads in Sprint Cup points with 42
after the first race of the season. Gilliland and Labonte picked up 41 points
"There at the end it all worked out almost perfectly," said Edwards, who won
the final two races last season. "Trevor did a good job of blocking the
bottom. Then his car was a rocket. He took off to the finish line. I didn't
have a chance to be able to mount up a real charge on him."
During the off-season, NASCAR revised its championship points system for all
three of its series, making it a simpler system.
Gilliland finished third, while Labonte took the fourth spot. Labonte, the
2000 series champion, earned one bonus point for leading a lap. Gilliland's
career best finish in Cup is second, which came in June 2008 at Infineon
Raceway (Sonoma, CA).
"I finished second at Infineon, but I think this tops that," Gilliland said.
Busch, who won the pre-season Budweiser Shootout and the first Daytona 500
qualifying race, completed the top-five.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Smith, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Mark Martin finished
sixth through 10th, respectively.
Ragan, attempting to win his first Cup race, ended up 14th.
Earnhardt Jr. wound up finishing 24th. He was credited with the pole position,
but had to start the race from the rear of the field in a backup car.
"I want to congratulate the whole Wood Brothers team," said Earnhardt Jr.,
the 2004 Daytona 500 winner. "They did an awesome job and had a good car all
weekend, and that boy [Bayne] drove his heart out."
The start of the Daytona 500 was marked with a tribute to Dale Jr.'s late-
father, Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in an accident on the last lap of this
race ten years ago.
During the moment of silence for Earnhardt on the third lap, fans in
attendance stood up and raised three fingers in the air, honoring the seven-
time champion who drove the famed No.3 car for most of his illustrious Cup
Announcers from FOX television's coverage of the 500-mile race were silent
during the lap, which was led by Kurt Busch.
Shortly after on the 29th lap, the big one occurred when Michael Waltrip got
into the back of his teammate, David Reutimann, triggering a 14-car wreck
between turns three and four.
"It's just a product of this kind of racing; it wasn't [Waltrip's] fault,"
Gordon, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, and Jimmie Johnson, the five-time
defending Cup champion, were among those caught up in the accident. Both
drivers returned to the track later on, with Johnson finishing 27th and Gordon
right behind in 28th.
"It is such a bummer," Gordon said. We had such a fast race car...You have to
take what you can from this."
Richard Childress Racing had a disappointing race, with teammates Kevin
Harvick, the 2007 winner, and Jeff Burton knocked out early due to engine
failure. Harvick's blown engine occurred on lap 22, while Burton's mishap
happened on lap 94.
"I just blew the water out of the bottom of the thing," said Harvick, who
finished 42nd. "I hadn't done anything different. I had a little bit more oil
temperature but nothing out of the ordinary."
Burton, who won last Thursday's second-qualifier, finished 36th.
"We are asking a lot out of the engines here for sure; these are tough
situations," Burton said.
The record 74 lead changes topped the previous mark of 60, set in 1974.
02/20 21:41:13 ET