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December 19, 2014

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Can Trevor Bayne help NASCAR bridge the gap?

NASCAR wants to accomplish two important things: Grow the fan base by appealing to younger fans and hold on to older fans by preserving aspects of the sport they hold dear. Can Trevor Bayne help accomplish that?

The skate-boarding, F150-driving 20-year-old may have the right combination of youth and history to help NASCAR accomplish its goals. It’s obvious that the articulate and attractive Daytona 500 winner will appeal to younger people who may not have a strong connection to the sport. And how do I know this? Well, judging from the reaction of the teenage girls in the Smith family, I’d say Bayne has a lot of magnetism.

But Bayne may also have something going for him that could appeal to the core fans. And that’s the historic No. 21 car he’s driving. Loyal followers of the sport are intimately familiar with the legend of the Wood Brothers and the car that has been piloted by some of the greatest names in auto racing. Fans who have watched NASCAR for years would love to see the car made famous by drivers like Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and A.J. Foyt become competitive again.

The appeal of the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history may not stop there. Bayne doesn’t seem to be overly impressed with himself. His modesty and enthusiasm are qualities that people from any generation can relate to. And it’s refreshing to see a professional athlete with these attributes in a world where so many athletes are egomaniacal, self-indulgent jerks. Hopefully, Bayne can keep his appealing attributes if he rises to become one of the sport’s major stars.

Although personality and history can go a long way toward bringing eyes to the sport, he’s also going to have to keep on performing well. His career is going to be a fun one to watch.

Bayne will be among 12 drivers to participate in a free autograph session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 3. The event will take place from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the Neon Garage located in the track’s infield. The autograph line will form at 11 a.m. Fans can watch the Nationwide Series practice and attend the autograph session free of charge.

Joining Bayne in the session will be Kyle Busch, Danica Patrick, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Kenny Wallace and Steven Wallace.

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