Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

So what can Trevor Bayne do for an encore in Phoenix?

  Hey, Trevor Bayne is the hottest trending topic in NASCAR this week, with his Daytona 500 victory (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   While Trevor Bayne battles jet lag – Daytona to New York City to Chicago to San Francisco to Los Angeles to here, for Sunday's second event of the NASCAR season – the rest of the racing world is working hard to milk the Daytona 500 surprise for all the marketing it can get.
   And that's not just the NASCAR world.  
   The city of Avondale, just outside of Phoenix International Raceway, is honoring the late Dale Earnhardt by naming a street for him. Earnhardt and son Dale Jr. have both won at this track.

   And Randy Bernard's Indy-car series is jumping on the marketing bandwagon too this week – Yes, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, next week's NASCAR tour stop, will indeed host the Indy-car series finale Oct. 16, but the twist this week is Bernard is offering a $5 million bonus for any driver who is not an Indy-car tour regular who can come in and win.
   Paging Robby Gordon? That Indy-car race is Sunday afternoon, after Saturday night's Charlotte NASCAR race.
   Bayne may still be basking in that Daytona 500 win, but the stock car tour marches on, and this tight, trick flat-track is nothing like the high banks of Daytona, where the 20-year-old was amazingly cool. Just survival would be a good goal here, considering how wild these guys tend to get on short tracks early in the season.
   For just about everyone else, putting Daytona in the rear view should be good medicine. A lot of stars just didn't make it across the finish line.
   That two-car drafting may have been stunning to behold, but for those in the middle of it, well, it was something wild and crazy.
    "I think that was really the first race I went into ever in my career just thinking survival mode," Bayne conceded. 
    He certainly played the hand quite well.
    Now we've all got to learn just who Trevor Bayne really is. The Knoxville, Tenn., racer is really not well known at all.
    First, he's quite religious.
    Second, he's very courteous.
    Third, he's very young, but he's been racing since he was five.
   "I never had my 'crazy party' stage, or whatever you want to call it that most teenagers go through, because I had to grow up fast," Bayne says. 
    "I've been growing up fast since I was five.  I missed a lot of birthday parties, but now we get to have a Daytona 500 party, so I think it was all worth it."
    Wow, that's a pretty big Daytona 500 diamond ring ol' TB is sporting (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)   

    The measure of overnight success?
    Perhaps Twitter:
   "My Twitter, that I've been working on for over a year now, was at 6,000 before this week…and it was 21,000 overnight," Bayne said in amazement.
    "I had a meeting about 'What is the goal of Trevor Bayne -- as a brand, as a person.'
    "It started out to be the best driver…but that's changed. It's not to be the best driver, the most marketable…just to take the platform we've been given and grow that."

    NASCAR's new rules barring drivers from earning championship points in more than one series may have backfired big-time: Bayne won the Daytona 500 but he's not coming here with any Sprint Cup points. Tony Stewart won Saturday's Nationwide race but he too isn't that tour's points leader. Likewise for Michael Waltrip, who won Friday night's Truck race (with a rear spoiler that was clearly not meeting specs at the finish line). NASCAR would appear to be 0-for-three on that rules change.
   How about on the TV front?
   Fox says the overnights showed a 17 percent increase over last year's Pothole 500.
   ESPN says Saturday's dramatic Nationwide 300 – with that photo-finish – showed a sharp increase in the male 18-34 demographic that TV moguls are so interested in attracting. However the broadcast itself didn't come close to last year's Danica Patrick-inspired 300. Last year's Nationwide set a record with a 3.2 rating; this SpeedWeeks the final national household rating came in at 2.4, meaning 3.2 million viewers, with a huge jump of 43 percent in the male 18-34.

   In other NASCAR news:
   NASCAR hit Michael Waltrip's Truck with penalties and fines for that illegal rear spoiler in Friday night's Truck race at Daytona. Waltrip won the race with a 'broken' rear spoiler. NASCAR fined crew chief Doug Howe $25,000 and placed him on probation until Dec. 31. And owner Billy Ballew was penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points. Waltrip himself was not penalized, in part because he was given no points for the win because he has elected to take points only in Sprint Cup racing, under a new NASCAR rule this year.

   Daytona's new two-car stuff put a lot of pressure on the 'pushers' to keep up with what their 'pushee' was doing just ahead of them. And not everyone fared well.
   Michael Waltrip triggered a 14-car wreck when he pushed teammate David Reutimann just a bit too hard. That took out Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon and a number of others. (Johnson wound up 27th, Gordon 28th).
   And then on the first lap of the first overtime green-white-checkered, well, just what happened over there on the backstretch, to take out Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman,
   Earnhardt finished a disappointing 24th after having a shot at the win and running strong in his first race with new crew chief Steve Letarte.
   "It came down to all the carnage out there….too much carnage," Earnhardt said. "It just got crazy at the end.
   "That restart where I wrecked, that was some funny stuff on the bottom….we got hit in the quarter-panel trying to get by a wreck.
    "We may have caused a few today, I don't know. It was wild. We got a flat tire (late) and got ourselves in the back, and I was coming around (turns) one and two, and all those guys were running into the back of each other on the inside, and it was crazy. Robby Gordon got turned down in the apron, and they had a wreck (Gordon made an amazing save), and some guys got into the wall on the outside…and I was trying to avoid that, and got hooked in the right-rear."
    At least Earnhardt had a shot to win. Kevin Harvick and teammate Jeff Burton, who had two of the strongest cars all SpeedWeeks, blew engines and didn't finish. And they might have a good complaint to raise with NASCAR officials about some of those engine rules changes made only days before the biggest race of the season, changes that were specifically designed to keep engines from cooling as well as anticipated.
   "We had just 10 to 15 degrees more oil temp than what we had been running," Harvick said.  "Then the bottom fell out of it.
   "A tough way to start the year. But, man, we never blow motors."
    While Harvick would not blame the rules changes for his problems, Burton pointed out "We are asking a lot out of the engines. To run at all, you got to run them 240 degrees…and that may be a little more than we need to be running.
    "We thought we were well within our limits, but maybe not."
    Jeff Gordon, who started from the front row, was not pleased with the crash that took him out. "I had just gotten with (drafting partner) Trevor Bayne again….we were having a lot of fun. I totally get the two-car drafting, and I think we are going to see a lot more of it.
    "What I don't understand is why guys are doing it three-wide, three-deep running for 28th. I was sitting there just riding along, waiting for it to thin out. I probably should have waited even farther in the back.
    "You see them pushing and shoving up the middle down the backstraight, I'm like 'What are they doing?'"



Let's see, if it's Wednesday, it must be San Francisco....or is it Chicago....or Los Angeles? Just where is Trevor Bayne this week? Everywhere. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    For Bayne himself now, well, he's only raced in two Sprint Cup events and he just turned 20, and he's still looking for sponsorship to run the full Cup tour, and his current contract is only for this year…..
   So let the bidding begin?
   Here's the line:
   At the end of the year he looks like a free agent.
   Shouldn't be that way for long, though. Team owner Jack Roush, who is in the midst of contract renegotiations with three of his current stars, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth, will almost certainly want to lock up Bayne quickly for a longer stint.
   Yes, two races is hardly a career. But who doesn't want the next best thing, as Eddie Wood says?
  Bayne is probably just riding the wave at the moment:  "I'd be happy right here forever.  These guys are awesome," he says of the Woods. 
   "It's just so incredible to be surrounded by them. Any way it goes I'll be happy; but I love these guys.  I can't wait to keep racing with them."
    And now the caveat, Bayne warns: "One thing I haven't really talked about is keeping our expectations realistic here.  We won this race, and that sets the bar high. But if we had finished 15th, we would have been happy. 
    "We've got remember that for the rest of the season. 
    "If we don't go to Phoenix and win, and finish top 15, we still have to remember to be excited about that because we're still learning. 
     "There will times when we struggle, because I'm new at this.  A lot of new pieces have come together.
    "We've got to keep realistic and just race right now.
     "Whatever happens in a year, we'll come to that.
    "But these guys, if I stay with them forever, I'll be happy."

    And how did those final laps go? What was Bayne thinking on that final restart, with Tony Stewart and Mark Martin right next to him, and Bobby Labonte right behind?
    "I was in a panic, I really was," Bayne admitted. "That was the first time the whole race I really felt panicked. 
    "I was like 'Guys, do I let Tony Stewart get in front of me and just push him?  Do I back up? What's going to happen?'
    "It seemed every time (during the race) I'd built a scenario for the restart in my head it didn't work out that way at all.
    "So I'm coming to the green and I'm still on the mike saying 'What should I do?'
   "I'm about to go into third gear and I'm still asking.  
   "Well, I guess we'd better go with whatever happens.
    "Bobby got an awesome restart.  He was right up on me, so I just dragged the brake a little bit.  I lost him for a second, so I kept dragging and we hooked up.  Then everybody else got disconnected somehow, Tony Stewart and his partner…. 
    "Carl Edwards unhooked somebody else, and then they were coming to us, and I was like 'We're next.'"
    But Edwards couldn't get to the outside of Bayne on the trioval fast enough, and when he did, he lost his drafting partner for a moment, and that was enough for Bayne to slip away.
    "Carl actually called me to ask 'What could I have done to win this thing?'," Bayne said.
    "I thought it was cool just to say we led on the last lap of the 500; I felt that was going to be our joy story. I didn't think there was any way that front pack would be able to maintain.
    "All the races the second group has caught up and passed them.
    "But Bobby Labonte was the perfect pick. 
    "Carl chose the inside, and as soon as he got beside Bobby I made the switch so he couldn't go high, and it was perfect."


   The Daytona 500 winner and the machinery that got him there, the Woods' legendary 21 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com