Every NASCAR driver has a track/race that’s more near and dear to his/her heart than any other. Drivers consider wins at their home tracks special, and then there are a few other races that hold a little extra prestige for everyone — races like the Daytona 500, Southern 500, etc.
Trevor Bayne won one of those prestigious races in 2011, taking a surprise win in the Daytona 500. He became the youngest driver, ever, to win the “All American Race,” visiting Daytona’s victory lane the day after his 20th birthday. That win came in only his second Cup start and was Wood Brothers Racing’s first victory since Elliott Sadler won at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway in 2001. On top of that, Bayne heads into this weekend’s 2014 Daytona 500 as the only driver from the current Ford camp with a Daytona 500 win.
Recently, Bayne talked about his momentous win. Here’s what he had to say:
CAN YOU QUANTIFY HOW WINNING THE DAYTONA 500 CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
“I would say the Daytona 500 was definitely the race win that changed my career. To this point, everybody wants to see number two I guess. It kind of wears off after a little while as far as the glamour of it all. To be a Daytona 500 champion at this point in my career is unbelievable but we are still fighting hard as if we never won it before. You want to go to the race track every year like you have to prove yourself and want to win races. The next race I would like to win would still be the Daytona 500.”
DOES HAVING WON IT ADD PRESSURE?
“I don’t think we have to prove anything. People have seen that we can win races. We won last year at Iowa, but you always want to win races whether it is proving it isn’t a fluke or proving you can do this or just to win races. You don’t have to really prove anything, you just want to win. That is our desire and competitive nature.”
WHAT ABOUT A RACE OTHER THAN THE 500 THAT HAS SHAPED YOUR PATH?
“Outside of the 500 another race that changed my career would have been the Hooters Pro Cup race back in 2005 at Bristol Motor Speedway when I was 15-years-old. We were leading that race with 15 laps to go and got crashed by Bobby Gill. I didn’t come in throwing my stuff or getting all mad and Pat Suhy saw me and saw that I was good on the race track and could carry myself off it. He was really interested and took me to three different teams and got me into the NASCAR pool and got me my deal with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated (DEI). Outside of the Daytona 500 that race changed my career more than anything and maybe even more than winning the 500 because it got me into the NASCAR pool of drivers as a development driver and ultimately got me my shot with the Wood Brothers and Ford and everything else to be able to go win the 500. If you backtrack, there are races you look at and know that it helped you get to the point to even have the chance to win the Daytona 500. I think the 500 is on the biggest platform though and definitely changed the landscape of my life.”
YOU ARE THE GUY IN THE FORD STABLE OF DRIVERS WITH A DAYTONA 500 WIN, WHAT DOES THAT FEEL LIKE?
“It is humbling. These guys have done this for so long. Carl, I know it drives him crazy. He called me after the 500 in 2011 and still talks about how he finished second and how bad that feels. I feel for him. He deserves it. All these guys do. Greg Biffle is an unbelievable driver. It is crazy to think that I am the only guy. You have Brad, Joey, Marcos, Aric and Stenhouse. Those are some good names in Fords and to think that I am the only one that has been able to do that is really humbling.”
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR