Again With The Woods, Bayne Remains Firm In His Beliefs
Defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne is back with Wood Brothers Racing’s Len and Eddie Wood and crew chief Donnie Wingo in hopes of feeling Daytona magic once again this season.
Bayne,the 20-year old from Knoxville, Tenn., was once again all smiles as he strolled into the media center at DIS to address questions from the media. Understandably, its his favorite track.
“This place is just a really cool place to come to whether it's testing or the race.
“I don't have a lot of experience doing that kind of pack drafting, so for me it was something totally new again, just like last year coming into the two-car deal.
“So it was kind of fresh and totally different mindset. If that's how it's going to be, you kind of just think for yourself, and if there's a one-car gap you can squeeze into it instead of having to have the two-car gap.
“I enjoyed it. I think it can be fun, but it's definitely a lot more nerve-wracking than the two-car draft.”
Bayne sports a wide smile when reminded he is the defending champion of the 500. If even sounds a little bit strange to say his name alongside of those of Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt, it’s still true. He has collected the trophy for NASCAR’s most prestigious race.
“Yeah, that sounds crazy to me because I never would have expected, coming into this last year, that we would be the winner,“ Bayne said. “It's really humbling.
“I'm kind of the same mindset that I was last year. Last year I came in thinking there's no way we can win this, and now I'm coming back saying there's no way we can win two in a row, but then the Wood Brothers keep showing up with great race cars and they keep showing up with the guys that can win, and I think that's what's so important.“
Bayne spent the past six weeks not completely sure if he would be back with the Wood Brothers team in 2012, as there was a possibility there would be a change dictated by the team’s strong affiliation with Roush-Fenway Racing and team owner Jack Roush.
“I kind of sat back to see if I was going to be running a Nationwide car or a Cup car or what I'd be doing, if (Ricky) Stenhouse would be in the 21,” Bayne said. “Nobody really knew. I think even the Wood Brothers were at a loss for words for a little while.
“And then finally it all came back together that we could be together again, and there's no better team for me to be driving for, I don't think. I think the Wood Brothers are great racers that have done it for a long time, and they just want to race.
“That's what's so cool about them. It's an honor to drive for the oldest team in NASCAR that's still standing, and it's no wonder that they're still winning races. I think we can do it again this year, we're just going to have to work really hard at it.”
So where is his 2011 Daytona 500 winner’s trophy? It’s in Knoxville atop an old dresser at his parent’s home. But there’s another story about a very unexpected discovery.
“I was home for the last two weeks in Knoxville, and I was looking around, and I found a big trunk in that dresser and it had all my old schoolwork in it,” Bayne said.
“I found this thing that I wrote in kindergarten, and it's kind of embarrassing. But I was looking through it and it was from Thanksgiving.
“I am reading it, and it's like, I'm thankful for my family and churches and my sponsors and my go-karts and Jeff Gordon. I'm like, what is this? So I was already thanking my sponsors and Gordon in kindergarten so, that I that was kind of funny.”
Bayne gained respect after expressing his religious beliefs just after winning last season’s 500.
He continues to feel his success on the track can give him a stage from which to express his views about God and heaven and help people turn their lives in a positive direction.
Like his friend Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, Bayne has heard his share of criticism about his religious beliefs. However, he gained some advice from the football star.
“I think it's a really great thing that Tim is staying firm in what he believes in,” Bayne said. “He's not letting that change him.
“I read an article today in USA Today that talked about that, and I can see how that would be really hard when you have that much flak that you're catching, whether it's good or it's bad.
“If people are talking about it so much, it would be easy to change and waver, but I think the reason he doesn't is because it's real.
“I think Jesus is someone who can really change lives, and I think that if we believe all that he says he is - and we believe like we say we do - then we'll look different just like he does and like we're trying to do here.”
Rest assured if Bayne takes a second consecutive Daytona 500 victory on Feb. 26, a lot can be said for what he’s doing on the track - and in his life.