Crunching numbers: Bayne storms Daytona

February, 22, 2011

My first Daytona 500 (technically Daytona 520) ended up being quite the experience.

Of course, I was watching in a production truck, so it was just like watching at home except with less comfortable furniture, a smaller TV and no snacks, but it was still nice to be in Florida opposed to Connecticut for the week.

But sometimes we go into information overload here in the ESPN Research Department, with just too many good nuggets to get into one little blog.

So, I'll use up my word space this week going into mega-lightning-round mode (an unprecedented move and a made-up term) to get as much Trevor Bayne info into your heads as possible. Go!

'The Bayne Event'

All week long on "NASCAR Now," we did segments with Bayne, called "The Bayne Event," trying to get to know the driver better in advance of his first Daytona 500, and just his second Cup start. By the end of the weekend, we liked the guy so much that we found ourselves all rooting for him, no offense to Carl Edwards, David Gilliland or Bobby Labonte.

There's been much ado about Bayne being the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history at age 20, but it digs deeper than that. Bayne is the second-youngest winner in Cup series history, trailing only Joey Logano's rain-aided victory in 2009 at New Hampshire.

Winning in your second start is downright historic, too. In NASCAR's modern era (since 1972), Bayne is just the second driver to win in his second start. Nobody has won in his first start.

Bayne also becomes the seventh driver to win the Daytona 500 for his first career Cup win, and in Bayne's case, it's his first win in any of the NASCAR national series.

The last to get his first Cup win in the 500 was Michael Waltrip in 2001. The last to get his first NASCAR national series win in the 500 was Derrike Cope in 1990.

Trivia break! Who is the only other driver in the Cup series modern era to win one of his first two starts?

Sentimental favorite

On one hand, you have a driver who turned 20 just one day before the 500. On the other hand, you have a team that's been around since the 1950s getting its 98th all-time win.

You can't tell which is the bigger story, but watching the Wood brothers on the set of "NASCAR Now" after the race was a spine-tingling moment.

Bayne's the fifth driver to win a Daytona 500 for Wood Brothers Racing, joining a who's who list in NASCAR history: David Pearson, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough and Tiny Lund. It's also the first win for the Wood Brothers since Elliott Sadler won in an upset at Bristol in 2001. It's their fourth win overall since 1990.

Trivia break! Who are the other two drivers to win for the Wood Brothers since 1990?

A successful Speedweeks

Before I go more than double my word limit (I'm quickly headed that way), let's talk about how awesome Speedweeks was, regardless of your opinion of the two-car breakaway drafts.

The Daytona 500 set race records for leaders (22) and lead changes (74), and the drivers who finished second and third (Edwards and Gilliland) failed to lead.

Bayne won by a whopping .118 seconds, which seems like a pretty close margin, and it is, but it gets wider when you consider that every other finish during Speedweeks came down to less than a tenth of a second.

That was highlighted by Tony Stewart's win in the Nationwide Series race by .007 seconds, the third-closest race in series history.

Trivia break! Who won the races tied for closest finishes in Nationwide Series history (1996 Milwaukee and 1999 Talladega, for a hint)?

Trivia break answers

1. 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray also won in his second career start, in 2002 at Charlotte.

2. Morgan Shepherd won in 1993 at Atlanta, Dale Jarrett in 1991 at Michigan for the Wood Brothers.

3. Buckshot Jones and Terry Labonte both won by two-thousandths of a second in the Nationwide Series.



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