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Woody: Does Daytona Dazzle Haunt Bayne?

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 23 2011

Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers were a great story after winning the Daytona 500. Too great of a story? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Trevor Bayne’s amazing victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 has its downside.

The just-turned-20 driver left himself a hard – no, an impossible – act to follow.

When you start the season on top of the world, there’s only one way to go from there. Since capturing Daytona, Bayne has had his struggles.

He is sixth in points in the Nationwide Series, in which he hopes to contend for the championship, with one top 5 finish. Granted, the season is just getting warmed up, and sitting in sixth is not a bad place to be for the charismatic rookie racer from Knoxville. With the Cup full-timers excluded from title contention this season, Bayne rates among the serious challengers.

But every time he runs into trouble or makes a, well, rookie mistake, you can almost hear the eyebrows arch. How’d THAT happen? Isn’t he a Daytona 500 champion?

Yep, he is. And he’s also a youngster with a mere handful of big-time races under his belt. They didn’t paint that yellow rookie stripe on his rear fender for nothing.

While a kid winning the Daytona 500 with the venerable Woods Brother was the feel-good story of the season – and maybe the decade – it created some unrealistic expectations for both driver and

The Trevor Bayne story took a detour in Phoenix. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

team.

Bayne’s still learning the ropes and the Wood Brothers are still the same underdog team that it was before the Daytona upset – an old-time team with limited financing trying to survive in a big-time era against mega-teams with big stacks of blank checks.

In other words, don’t expect Trevor and the Wood Brothers to win again any more Cup races anytime soon.

It will be interesting to see how Bayne handles the pressures that come with carrying the heavy load of “Daytona 500 champion.” He’s a bright young man who seems to be able to put things into proper perspective and the bet here is that he’ll handle the rocky times.

But NASCAR has become like other pro sports, with a what-have-you-done-lately mentality. When a driver wins a race the first question he’s asked is, when will he win another?

With a great triumph comes great expectations. In Bayne’s case those expectations – at least on the Cup level – should be tempered and realistic.

Daytona was a glorious moment but it’s over and done. The win wasn’t a fluke but it also wasn’t indicative of  how the driver and team are going to perform in the remainder of this seasons’ Cup schedule.

When you fly high, coming back down to earth is often a bumpy landing. Welcome to racing reality.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 23 2011
One Comment

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  • Charles says:

    Look Bayne winning Daytona was not a bad omen!!!!

    Even if he doesnt win another race this year a lot would like a Daytona 500 on their resume!!

    He is a rookie, so mistakes is going to happen! Rather have the option of winning Daytona and not winning Daytona which would you take!!!