*FACT: Trevor Bayne is the next Jimmie Johnson*
I normally try not to put drivers into the Hall of Fame when they only have two starts under their belt in NASCAR’s premiere series, but it’s apparent the part-time driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford is special.
In Trevor Bayne’s second Sprint Cup Series start, he has already earned the respect of Jeff Gordon – which essentially means the respect of every single Sprint Cup Series driver. For a young rookie to attain that type of compliment from a shoe-in Hall of Famer nearly equals the meaning of being the youngest Daytona 500 champion, at one day over 20 years old.
As Bayne noted in victory lane – after he finally found it, that is – he became a winner in the Cup Series before he had claimed the checkers in the Nationwide Series. Bayne is made for this series; he keeps his calm, and is an overall good kid.
If Joey Logano is indeed the best thing since sliced bread, then Bayne is the best thing since the toaster (or Jimmie Johnson). He has the makeup of a future champion. I’m not saying it will be this year, but it will happen sooner rather than later, and it will occur more than once.
*FICTION: The two-car tandems would lead to a boring 500*
The 2011 Daytona 500 will go down as one of the most unique, exciting NASCAR races in the history of the sport. With the two-car tandems added in with NASCAR’s attempt to stop them provided a completely different look to racing at Daytona.
What was formerly a race of two or three lines that raced parallel to each other for 500 miles turned into a race that would have a pack of eight or nine pairs of cars.
The two-car tandems also made a race already known for being mentally taxing on the drivers even more so, for it added even more strategies for the drivers to contend with. With the second car in these pair-ups unable to see the action going ahead of them, drivers and crews continuously bounced around on the frequencies of different drivers to work out deals, while the mechanical adjustments ordered by NASCAR throughout Speedweeks forced drivers to swap places in the two-car tandems and watch their temperature gauges closely.
When NASCAR announced their changes before the Daytona 500 in reaction to the two-car breakaways that had drivers racing at speeds above 200 miles per hour on several occasions, I thought they may have over-fixed the issue. Instead, they improved on something that already created exciting and compelling racing. It’s a new form of racing that is hopefully here to stay.
*FACT: NASCAR is beginning the journey back up*
Staying on the Bayne victory at the Daytona 500, NASCAR started their rise up from years of decline. One of the oldest teams in the garage – one that runs a part-time schedule from a garage that only holds one team – won the sport’s biggest race with the youngest driver on the track.
There were stories spread throughout the garage, such as Brian Keselowski, who was pushed into the Daytona 500 starting lineup by his brother Brad, and ended up with a full sponsorship for the race that allowed him to contend with the big boys in one of America’s largest sporting events.
The ever-enthusiastic crowd could be heard over the noise coming from the track many times throughout the event – and not just when Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead. Twitter exploded following the race, with four out of the top 10 trending topics being NASCAR related. There were literally thousands of tweets regarding NASCAR rolling in every minute.
There is still a little ways to go, but it would be hard to believe that someone who watched the race today would have no desire to continue to watch this season.
*FICTION: NASCAR can compete with the NFL*
Despite the kind words I provided earlier in this piece, NASCAR isn’t yet at a point to compete with any NFL event. This is proven with the ever-present ratings decline that hits the moment football season starts.
Thankfully, on Sunday, NASCAR announced that the Daytona 500 would be moved a week later than its usual date, in response to the possibility of a later Super Bowl. The move also eliminates the March off-weekend, which has long been accused of being more of a buzz-kill than anything else.
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