DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Trevor Bayne was not very well known prior to the start of Budweiser Speedweeks 2011 and the 53rd annual Daytona 500.
But when he left Daytona International Speedway, he was a household name and a Daytona 500 champion.
In the 2011 Daytona 500, rookie Trevor Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the race, became the youngest champion of the NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious event.
Behind the wheel of the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, Bayne edged Carl Edwards by .118 seconds on the second green-white-checkered restart to become the first driver to win on the newly repaved racing surface.
“I keep thinking I am dreaming; I really do,” said Bayne after the race. “It is unbelievable. Our first 500 – are you kidding me? To win our first one? Our second-ever Cup race?”
Entering the 2011 season, Bayne was a promising driving prospect under contract with Roush Fenway Racing to compete in the Nationwide Series. He was also running a limited Sprint Cup Series schedule with the legendary Wood Brothers.
In practice sessions and the Budweiser Duel qualifying race leading up the Daytona 500, Bayne showed plenty of poise on the daunting 31-degree high banks and quickly became a popular drafting partner.
With two laps remaining in the Daytona 500, a multi-car incident brought out the caution and set up the first green-white-checkered restart.
As the field approached the green flag, race-leader David Ragan moved into the bottom lane before crossing the start/finish line and was black-flagged. Another incident entering Turn 3 on that first lap set up a second green-white-checkered restart and Ragan’s penalty gave Bayne the lead which he would never relinquish.
Bayne’s name is now engraved on the coveted Harley J. Earl trophy alongside racing legends Tiny Lund, Cale Yarborough, AJ Foyt and David Pearson - the other four drivers who have won the Daytona 500 with the legendary team.
Bayne says he didn’t understand the scope of the accomplishment until he talked to the Wood Brothers.
“(The Wood Brothers) said it was as cool as Pearson’s win and that’s when it sinks in because I don’t put myself on that kind of stage with those guys,” Bayne said. “I don’t think of myself as doing the same thing that David Pearson did or AJ Foyt or Tiny Lund or Cale Yarborough.
“When they made that comment, that this was one of the coolest 500 wins, that’s when I though, ‘Wow, this is real.’ This is something that a lot of people strive for their whole career. This is one of the biggest races in motorsports and we were the ones in Victory Lane.’ ”
Tickets for the NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race – the 55th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 24 – start at $65 and are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
For the second straight year, the Speedway is offering special youth pricing for the Daytona 500. Children 12 and under will receive 50 percent off all backstretch grandstand seats for the Daytona 500 while supplies last. In addition, children 12 and under are free in the Sprint FANZONE throughout Budweiser Speedweeks.
Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter (@NASCAR) and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #NASCAR and #DAYTONA500 and #NASCARBattle. In addition, fans can also stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest for all the latest news all season long.
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