Question of the day: Is Trevor Bayne a fluke or the next big thing in NASCAR? [Updated]
Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, vote in the poll and leave a comment explaining your choice.
Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times
At just 20 years of age, Bayne could very well be the next big star in NASCAR, but one race -- albeit one of the most dramatic in years -- does not a career make.
Bayne certainly has everything going for him at the moment: He’s talented, composed, respected by his peers and mature beyond his years behind the wheel, as his upset Daytona 500 win proved.
Still, Bayne is running only a limited schedule in the premier Sprint Cup Series this season (he mainly drives in the second-level Nationwide Series) and much of his success will depend on whether he gets a full-time Cup ride with stout race cars.
If so, he would be a race promoter’s dream and could help NASCAR's effort to appeal to younger fans. But even that wouldn’t guarantee even one championship for the young Tennessean. Just ask Kyle Busch, 25, who many argue is the best driver in NASCAR and yet is still looking for his first title.
George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel
It’s awfully tempting to jump on the Trevor Bayne bandwagon -- restrictor plates in place of course -- and celebrate a new era in stock car racing.
And that would truly be preposterous.
You want to root for the kid and his team, the iconic Wood Brothers. It’s easy to see why many media members broke protocol and cheered as Bayne’s Ford crossed the finish line Sunday afternoon.
But the morning-after reality is this: Bayne isn’t even scheduled to run a full Cup season (although that could change). He’s only run two Cup races in his life. And the Daytona deal with the plates and the crazy bump-draft strategy makes for a far different animal than the usual grind he will find on other tracks.
The kid has great potential, and NASCAR would love for him to harness that potential and become the new face of the sport.
The future is promising. But the report card is incomplete.
[Updated at 10:23 a.m.
Shawn Courchesne, Hartford Courant
Even if Trevor Bayne is the next big thing, it’s highly unlikely that fans will see that in 2011.
If his Wood Brothers Racing team decides to run full time in the Sprint Cup Series this year, it is likely Bayne would spend the season as an also-ran for the organization. Wood Brothers is hardly a top-tier team, and that isn’t going to change based on Sunday’s Daytona 500 victory.
The reality of the Sprint Cup Series is that the restrictor plate racing that takes place at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway can be a crapshoot. That means teams and drivers that aren’t competitive on the majority of the tracks the division visits can shock the sport in those four restrictor plate races each season. Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip has four victories in 764 career Sprint Cup starts. All four wins are in restrictor plate races. In 409 career Sprint Cup starts, Derrike Cope has six top-five finishes, and one of his two career victories came in the Daytona 500 in 1990.
There’s a good chance Bayne could end up in the lineup with the top level Roush Racing organization in 2012 at the Sprint Cup level, and with a team like that he could shine week in and week out, but it’s not going to happen this year.]
[Updated at 1:20 p.m.
Keith Groller, The Morning Call
While Trevor Bayne’s win on Sunday may have been more a matter of luck with many of the top contenders sidetracked by the flurry of fender benders and other calamities, the just-turned 20-year-old has as much of a chance to become NASCAR’s next big star as anyone.
Maybe most of America didn’t know about him before Sunday, but he was considered a comer in NASCAR’s inner circle for a few years. He had four poles, six top-fives and 13 top-10s in the Nationwide Series last year and was second in points among non-Cup drivers.
The Daytona win, and the PR-friendly way he handled it, should give him the perfect boost to secure the sponsors needed for more Sprint Cup starts this year. And with experience will come more success. While it’s unfair to say he’s the next Jimmie Johnson, you haven’t heard the last of young Mr. Bayne.]
Photo: Trevor Bayne. Credit: Jeff Siner / MCT.