What a way to start the year, folks! There's a REASON fans and drivers alike love Daytona. There were 74 lead changes, 22 different leaders and a whopping 16 cautions brought out during the 200 laps. But, the biggest surprising record-breaker was the winner, Trevor Bayne. Driving the #21 for the Wood Brothers, Trevor became the youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500, besting previous record holder Jeff Gordon by more than 5 years. In fact, Trevor just turned 20 on Februray 19th (the day before the race).
Trevor's amazing skills as a "pusher" in the "it takes two to tango" duets going on all day were first made evident in the Budweiser Shootout on the Sunday before. Trevor didn't even toss his name into the Rookie of the Year pot because he is only driving a limited race schedule for the year in Sprint Cup due to the financial constraints the Wood Brothers have fallen upon in the last several years. Although, from what I understand, thanks to the win on Sunday, the Wood Brothers have talked about adding a couple more Sprint Cup races to Trevor's schedule this year. This was definitely a boost in the arm they needed!
Even with the changes NASCAR employed after seeing speeds in excess of 200mph at the Budweiser Shootout, half of the record-breaking caution flags flew in the first half of the race. The "big one" came out at Lap 29, taking out 15 cars, including such racing bigwigs as Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers (in his return after his incredibly scary health problems last year) and five-time series winner Jimmie Johnson.
On the first Green-White Checker attempt, Robbie Gordon got loose, saved his car from hitting anybody and ended up being the catalyst for a late race crash when he tried to get back into line. Ryan Newman, Dale Jr and Martin Truex Jr got caught up in that one, dashing their hopes of winning the race. With the second Green-White-Checker attempt, the more experienced Carl Edwards looked like he might be the one to overtake Trevor Bayne but the kid won out, making it seem like easy work to win NASCAR's biggest race of the year.
Amazing! The next race will be held at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 3pm EST on Fox. What a fantastic start to what may just be an amazing year.
Top Five Finishes at 2011 Daytona 500:
1. Trevor Bayne (#21)
2. Carl Edwards (#99)
3. Travis Kvapil (#34)
4. Bobby Labonte (#47)
5. Kurt Busch (#22)
* Photo by Mark J Rebilas, US Presswire, printed in USA Today.com