Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011 | 6:13 p.m.
Forget about “boys have at it.” Forget about the new pavement at Daytona. Forget about the two-car draft. Nothing can create drama, excitement and attention like seeing a 20-year-old rookie win the Daytona 500 in his first attempt. 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.
And as if this Cinderella story wasn’t enough, winner Trevor Bayne was driving the historic No. 21 Ford for NASCAR pioneers Leonard and Glen Wood. Bayne’s Daytona win ends a 10-year-losing streak for the Wood Brothers. The last time the No. 21 car won a Daytona 500 was in 1976 with David Pearson.
Bayne is slated to race in 17 Cup races for the Wood Brothers this season. But after his Daytona performance, it would be a shame to see him limited to such a short schedule. The No. 21 car’s sponsor, Motorcraft, which is Ford’s parts division, needs to step up and see to it that the car is funded for the entire season. Frankly, if I were Bill Ford, I’d write a personal check for the Wood Brothers to ensure that the Motorcraft Ford runs a full schedule. The positive publicity the company would receive from having Bayne behind the wheel is priceless. I won’t be surprised if we hear in the next few days that sponsorship for the entire season has been secured.
Jeff Gordon obviously sees Bayne’s talent. He made an effort to draft with Bayne in the second Gatorade Duel on Thursday. And Gordon has a pretty good record at recognizing talent. Just ask Jimmie Johnson.