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Trevor Bayne! The youngest Daytona 500 winner in history, with the legendary Wood brothers

  Nope, that's not David Pearson in the Wood brothers' ol 21, it's newcomer Trevor Bayne, the emotional winner of Sunday's Daytona 500...the first Daytona 500 win here since that legendary 1976 race (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  By Mike Mulhern


   Trevor Bayne, with a touch at the wheel some Ford execs are comparing to Formula 1 legend Jackie Stewart, capped an impressive SpeedWeeks with a most improbable and highly emotional victory in NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500, in a brilliant performance – and a comeback showing for the legendary Wood brothers.
   It was only Bayne's second Sprint Cup race ever….and the Knoxville, Tn., racer just turned 20 Saturday. That makes him the youngest Daytona 500 winner in history….on a record-setting day for lead changes and caution flags.  
   The Wood brothers now have five Daytona 500 victories, but this was the first since David Pearson's spine-tingling win over Richard Petty in 1976.

   And it came in a double-overtime Green-White-Checkered finish that was as wild as any of them.
   "This is the greatest feeling," Len Wood said, clearly emotional, as was brother Eddie, the men who run this team.
   "Trevor will be a great one, he may be the next great one," Eddie Wood said.   "This is probably the happiest, the calmest I've been in 10 years."
   For Bayne the day was a whirlwind, and he couldn't even find victory lane afterwards.

     Trevor Bayne, yes! (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  Crew chief Donnie Wingo deserves good credit too for the repair work he and his crew did after Bayne crashed in that tangle with Jeff Gordon in Thursday's 150. Gordon that day had quickly given Bayne his personal seal of approval, running with him through that hour-long race.

   Daytona's new asphalt changed the game here, and the two-car drafting packs seen the past several weeks again dominated.
   Bayne played the pusher most of the day, mixing and matching, as most in the field were forced to do. Down the stretch Bayne was pushing teammate David Ragan, the two-some leading the field for the first two-lap overtime, on a restart. However, restarts are double-file, so Ragan took the outside, giving the less experienced Bayne the inside. At the green Ragan moved quickly ahead, as planned, and then dropped down in front of Bayne, again as planned, to set up the two-car draft again.
   But NASCAR blackflagged Ragan for making that pass too soon, which Ragan naturally protested vigorously, to no avail. The NASCAR decision however appeared clear-cut (unlike some other calls over the weekend).


     The key final restart: Trevor Bayne (21) on the inside, with Bobby Labonte pushing, then blocking; on the outside, Tony Stewart with pusher Mark Martin, and Kurt Busch (red and yellow) with David Gilliand on the inside. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   On that first lap, meanwhile, all hell broke loose on the backstretch. And what had only moments before been a 10-car battle for the win turned into a wild melee that took out challengers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and several others. Robby Gordon, 7th at the time, bobbled and when cars tried to dodge him, a big crash ensued.
   When lined up for the second overtime, Bayne was the leader, with two-time NASCAR champ Tony Stewart, winner of Saturday's Nationwide 300 and one of the sport's most formidable restrictor plate racers. Stewart was hooked up with wily Mark Martin (credit crew chief Lance McGrew with an incredible repair job after Martin's early crash), Bayne was hooked up with Bobby Labonte.
   However Stewart faded on the restart, Bayne got a good push from Labonte, and Bayne was off and running.
   At the white flag it was Bayne-Labonte just ahead of Kurt Busch-Juan Pablo Montoya, with Carl Edwards-David Gilliland coming up on the inside.
   Edwards, pushed by David Gilliland, had a strong run, but Bayne hugged the bottom, and Edwards couldn't find any room to the outside quickly enough. The pack stayed pretty much in line till coming off the fourth turn when Labonte made a bid to the outside, but Bayne had enough to hold him off at the line.
   "One I lost my momentum behind Trevor I knew I wouldn't win," Edwards said. "Trevor's car was a rocket. And he really hugged the bottom.
   "If we had gone to the high side, we might have gotten around Trevor, but then David might have won.
   "The experience is what I need to break through in these restrictor plate races.
  "I'd love to see a replay of that last lap. That race was chaotic."



  Trevor Bayne (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   Even in victory there was plenty of controversy:
   -- NASCAR's new championship rules would appear to rule Bayne out of making this year's Sprint Cup playoffs, because Bayne is being given no points for Sunday's win. Even if he were to win enough more races to have a shot at one of the two wild-card slots based on wins, he would have to be in the top-20 in Cup standings to be eligible. It is not clear if Bayne could change his previous declaration of running for Nationwide tour points this season.
   Ironically NASCAR redid the championship rules in part in response to Jamie McMurray's situation last season – McMurray won the Daytona 500 last year but failed to make the chase.
   -- Engines were a major factor too, as predicted. Bayne won with a Doug Yates FR9 engine.
   The Richard Childress Chevy engines, on the other hand, again showed plenty of power, but they had problems, as Kevin Harvick had worried. Harvick, one of the 500 favorites at the start of the day, was home on the couch in Kernersville, N.C., for the finish. Harvick and teammate Jeff Burton both blew motors, and Jamie McMurray, also running a Childress engine, had engine problems.


Richard Petty (L) and Leonard Wood. Teammates now, in victory lane....(Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Bayne and the Woods are now back part of the Jack Roush Ford operation,
    "We were doing it on our own, engineering and all, and we just couldn't get over the hump to where we were competitive every week," Eddie said. "So we got with Jack and talked with him about a plan to buy his race cars. And it's worked out perfectly.
   "Donnie was already part of their world, and now he's part of ours too.  
   "I was talking with Richard Petty about Trevor right after Thursday's 150s, and tried to figure out how a guy and we figured that it's just that Trevor doesn't know how to do it wrong."
    "He just catches on so well to the racing situations….and doesn't put himself in a bad situation," Wingo said.  

   "I have only known Trevor a short time, but he seems a truly nice guy," Edwards said. "But I still would have rather beaten him.
   "I think he's going to have a lot of fun this week. He is going to have the greatest week of his life….until he has children.
   "Hopefully corporate America will see that this guy has plenty of potential and deserves a chance to run the full tour."
   Bayne and the Woods have only enough sponsorship to run about 17 of the season's 36 races.
   Bayne will be running the full Nationwide tour, but sponsorship is an issue there too. His car in Saturday's 300 was sponsorless-white.
    Despite Bayne's victory in the season opener, he won't be the Sprint Cup points leader heading to Phoenix this week for the tour's second event. Because of NASCAR's new championship rules, none of the weekend's three winners – Bayne Sunday, Tony Stewart in Saturday's Nationwide, and Michael Waltrip in Friday's Truck – will leave here with that series' points lead. NASCAR this season has barred drivers from getting championship points in more than one division.
    So at Phoenix it will be runner-up Edwards atop the Cup standings.
                                             The results of Sunday's 53rd annual Daytona 500



    Remember 1976: David Pearson (21) recovered quicker than Richard Petty (43) and limped across the finish line to win the Daytona 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Terrific! What a nice young

What a nice young man, and a win long overdue for the Wood Brothers' legendary #21!
Ford's finished 1-2-3; [and the #47 team was a Ford team when Marcos Ambrose joined them.]

This may be the best finish for Ford at Daytona since 1963 when Tiny Lund won in the Wood #21 with Fords finishing 1-2-3-4-5!

I was thrilled to see Trevor

I was thrilled to see Trevor Bayne & The Wood Bros win the 500. Very well deserved & definitely not a fluke win. Bayne drove the race like crafty veteran in draft, reminiscent more of Davey Allison than Jackie Stewart. But I understand where the Ford execs were going in comparison. What disappointed me, but not really surprised, was the decision-making of David Ragan. What was he thinking? Is he really the goose that lays the golden UPS egg? Really??? If I was Roush I would have fired him on Monday 12:01am.

I have always liked and I

I have always liked and I have been keeping a eye on Trevor Bayne for the last 4 years and think the teams that gave him up are a bunch of fools because this gentleman is going to do great things in Nascar and in life. I believe Mr. Bayne has great potential to be a Nascar champion within 5 years if he is in really good equipment and a great team to back him up. Hopefully the Wood Brothers team give the pit crew and the shop crew the best equipment and financial backing that a championship team need to compete with the teams that have everything at there hands to compete in the top 10 week after week and year after year. I wish I owened a Sprint cup and Nationwide series race teams. I would have snapped Mr. Bayne up 4 years ago. Bye now he would be racing in the Sprint Cup series fulltime. Trevor Bayne I wish you the very best and may GOD keep blessing you and your family, race team, and your home life. You are a one of a kind guy don't change unless GOD commands you to. From your'e #2 fan, sorry Tony Stewert is my #1 guy but some day soon you will be my #1 driver. GOD BLESS

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