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Minter: In Search Of The Next Trevor Bayne

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 12 2011

Trevor Bayne signs an autograph for a young fan. Who will be the next young driver to whom fans will flock? (Photo by Getty Images)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

Among the many good things that have come from Trevor Bayne’s victory in the Daytona 500 is its fueling of the discussion about who will be the sport’s next Trevor Bayne, the next little-known driver to rise to prominence.

For racing insiders, Bayne was anything but little- known before he drove the Wood Brothers Ford to victory at Daytona and became the youngest driver ever to win the sport’s biggest race.

He first hit racing folks’ radar back in 2007 when he signed on as a driver for Dale Earnhardt Inc. Insiders also noticed when he moved over to Michael Waltrip Racing and started on the outside pole at Nashville Superspeedway in his first start for Waltrip and his second in the Nationwide Series.

Then last year, many were watching when he won three straight Nationwide poles in Waltrip’s car before moving to Roush Fenway Racing, which led to his Cup ride with the Wood Brothers.

The same asphalt short tracks of the Southeast, where Bayne once raced in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, are as good place as any to look for the next NASCAR newcomers. Among those making headlines there now are several drivers with names familiar to NASCAR fans.

Dave Blaney’s son Ryan and Matt Kenseth’s son Ross are coming along nicely, but they haven’t won as often as Chase Elliott, the 15-year-old son of Bill Elliott.

Young Elliott’s rise hasn’t gone unnoticed. Rick Hendrick recently signed him to a driving contract and has plans to put him in a full-time Nationwide Series ride when he reaches NASCAR’s legal age limit (now 18) for that series.

In the meantime, Elliott will continue to race Late Models (he’s won three times in four starts already

Chase Elliott, son of Sprint Cup great Bill Elliott, is loaded with potential.

this year) and run in NASCAR’s K&N Series, where the age limit was recently lowered to 15, a move many believe was made with Elliott in mind.

The next sensation could already be racing in one of NASCAR’s three elite series but hasn’t really been noticed.

But for any youngster, with or without existing NASCAR connections, one of the keys to future success will be how he or she progresses not only on the track but in their personal lives.

That is will they be able to handle the money that will come their way and the temptations that come with pending stardom?

In Bayne’s case, he seems as grounded and true to his work ethic now as he was back in his Pro Cup days. That might be as important as what he’s done on the race track.

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, March 12 2011


  • Jim says:

    I have not had the chance to see Chase race in person – but the highlights I have seen shown a few things – he races clean (like his dad), he is not afraid to take a chance to win a race (there was some go kart highlights out there a few years ago with Chase essentially going to “no man’s land” to make a pass for a win and Bill shaking his head at the move…..great stuff), and Chase is fast pretty much much everywhere is he goes – fast learner.

    I think people say he is the real deal because he drives well, but also because he has spent alot of time polishing his media chops for a 15 year old (giving lots of interviews – as much to practice and get better as anything). That is the piece Bill never really got a chance to polish. He realizes you need that to survive in NASCAR and Chase is already is pretty good in front of a camera and microphone.

    I hope the Hendrick deal works out for everyone….certainly you can’t ask for a better “shot” as a 15 year old than to be affiliated with a team that has won 5 Cup championships in a row.


  • Dale says:

    Having been a racing fan for 40 years, trust me when I say in Chase Elliott’s case it is the real deal. I have seen him in numerous races where his ability and poise are exceptional for a young man of his age. He handles hiself off the track is the same skillful manner Bill always has.

    Yes, some of them got there by their name, but this young man has got talent. Rick Hendrick has always been a pretty good judge of driver ability. He didn’t miss on this one either!

  • Terry says:

    Allison loses and a Petty…..that leaves a BIG legacy gap.
    Chase Elliot will give hopefully us years of continued quality racing. Larry Pearson and Kyle Petty are proof that it doesn’t alway’s transfer.
    Trevor Bayne will be one of the best….if Jack doesn’t ruin him after he steals the kid from the Wood Bros.
    Trevor is Kyle Busch …….BUT with looks, brains, and class.

    • David says:

      Chase Elliott is the real deal. He drives just like Bill and he is silky smooth. Very good kid. Very well spoken just like Bill as well. I have seen him race in person twice and you would think he was a vetern. NASCAR does have a future star in waiting.

      • Terry says:

        That is good to hear. I have heard nothing but great things about him. If he is half as smooth as his old man Bill he will do terrific in these new techno cars. Bill was alway’s almost Silver Fox smooth …..when he got out front….it was over. Chase and Trevor should be fun to watch for years.