Minter: In Search Of The Next Trevor Bayne
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Comments