Trevor Bayne's Daytona 500 Win Might Be Just What NASCAR Was Looking For
Trevor Bayne won yesterday's Daytona 500 in just his second Sprint Cup start, and if the "most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., wasn't going to win," Bayne's victory was the "next-best scenario for NASCAR," according to Scott Fowler of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Bayne "hits an ideal demographic for NASCAR," and the circuit's "next major star might have been born on Sunday." The 20-year-old Bayne is "God-fearing, apple-cheeked and personable," and he "likes to play the guitar, wear T-shirts, snowboard and use Twitter." Fowler: "You will be hard-pressed to miss Bayne this week as his publicity machine revs from 0 to 200mph" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/21). In Miami, Greg Cote wrote, "Next to Junior winning, this was the best thing that could have fallen into the lap of beleaguered NASCAR, which strives to reverse recent declines in TV ratings, attendance and sponsorships" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/21). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote, "This race was exactly what NASCAR needed. A new face in victory lane, new enthusiasm in the nearly-filled stands, new hope that maybe we've seen the bottom and are on the upswing once again. For one perfect Daytona afternoon, Trevor Bayne gave NASCAR what it desperately needed: hope that tomorrow will be better than today" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote, "This entire crazy afternoon may have been the shot in the arm NASCAR desperately needed. The sagging racing circuit is desperate for new stars, new drama and new excitement, and what was the wildest, strangest and, in the end, most compelling Daytona 500 in years delivered just that." The race "won't solve all of NASCAR's issues," but there is "simply no way it didn't help" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/20). In L.A., Jim Peltz writes, "For a sport hoping to reverse recent declines in attendance and television ratings," yesterday's race "in front of an estimated 182,000 seemed the compelling remedy" (L.A. TIMES, 2/21).
HOLLYWOOD STORY: In Orlando, Mike Bianchi writes under the header, "Not Even NASCAR Could Have Scripted Trevor Bayne." Bayne is "one of the sport's most uplifting winners." Bianchi: "For all of the NASCAR naysayers who say this sport doesn't have enough good story lines, how can you not love this one?" Bayne "has everything the critics say the sport is missing." Bianchi: "He has personality. He has pizzazz. He has loads of humility but no fear. He has the faith, fun and family values that NASCAR fans crave" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/21). In Las Vegas, Mike Smith wrote, "This story reads as if a team of Hollywood scriptwriters had been airlifted to Daytona to create the perfect story for the 53rd Daytona 500" (LASVEGASSUN.com, 2/20). In Charlotte, Jim Utter writes of Bayne, "What a refreshing personality and incredible story" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/21). FANHOUSE.com's Holly Cain noted most of Bayne's fellow drivers "declared him 'the next big deal' before the 500." Cain: "It was the prevailing opinion that he is exactly what NASCAR needs to sustain its popularity -- a combination of youth, charisma and talent" (FANHOUSE.com, 2/20). USA TODAY's Nate Ryan notes "Trevor Bayne" and "Wood Brothers," his team, were "trending on Twitter after the race." Driver Carl Edwards, who finished second in the race, said of Bayne, "A new winner, up-and-coming guy that's tied to so much history. This is as good as it gets. If people aren't watching, that's their problem, because we got some great stuff going on here" (USA TODAY, 2/21). More Edwards: "The world's going to like him a lot. I think he'll do a good job of representing the sport in whatever he does this week" (SCENEDAILY.com, 2/20).
WAS RACE GOOD FOR NASCAR? WQXI-AM's Ryan Stewart said Bayne's win was "very good for NASCAR because parity, to me, is very important." Stewart: "This was one of the most exciting races I've seen." But WQXI's Doug Stewart said it is "terribly bad" for NASCAR because it "shows that more so in this sport than any other sport luck becomes involved." ESPN's Skip Bayless said Bayne "won by default" because all the "big names wrecked." Bayless said with the record number of caution flags, the race became "unwatchable after a while" ("ESPN First Take," ESPN2, 2/21).