In the end, NASCAR could not have asked for a better result in the Daytona 500. Twenty-year-old Trevor Bayne, someone many had never heard of, won his first-ever NASCAR race and then "golly-gee'd" his way through an entertaining victory press conference.
A star has been born. Just witness the 10,000 people who signed up to follow Bayne's Twitter account within an hour of the victory Sunday night.
The Miami Herald's Greg Cote said this about Bayne:
Sunday, the kid became a rock star. He’s Justin Bieber, at 200 mph.
This could not have come at a better time for NASCAR, in need of a boost after years of television ratings declines. There was sentimental desire for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the race, understandable with this Daytona 500 coming on the 10th anniversary of his father's death at the track. Bayne, though, might be exactly what NASCAR needs.
Earnhardt, of course, was one of NASCAR’s last big things, and there are those who believe Bayne may be the sport’s next big thing.
He has everything the critics say the sport is missing. He has personality. He has pizzazz. He has loads of humility but no fear. He has the faith, fun and family values that NASCAR fans crave. He is Tim Tebow at 200 mph.
Pretty heady stuff for a kid one day past his 20th birthday. Now, we wait to see if both he and NASCAR can capitalize.
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