By admin | March 14, 2011
By Richard Allen
When Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 for Wood Brothers Racing in February it was the first victory for that legendary team since 2001. Their last visit to the winner’s circle had come in the spring race at the Bristol Motor Speedway when Elliott Sadler scored his first career triumph.
This Sunday, the Woods will be returning to the east Tennessee track with Bayne, a 20 year old Knoxville native, behind the wheel. It will be the young driver’s first Sprint Cup start on Bristol’s high banks although he has raced there a number of times in the Nationwide Series and other divisions.
“Man, I love that place,” Bayne said of his home track in an interview conducted last spring. “It’s like a football team playing a home game. Having everybody there is really cool.”
Since last year Bayne’s life has undergone some significant changes. In that time he has gone from relative obscurity to being someone America fell in love with virtually overnight. Now, however, those here in this area will have the opportunity to watch their hometown hero race for the first time since his Daytona heroics.
A new enthusiasm seems to be surrounding this event at the track that has so often provided excitement for NASCAR. Enthusiasm has never really been in short supply going into Bristol but with a Daytona 500 champion coming from just over an hour down the road, this race has taken on new meaning for the region.
And not just east Tennesseans have something to look forward to in Bristol. Long time NASCAR fans may have remembered that 2001 win by the Wood Brothers and think of the track fondly for that reason. This team which has trophies from so many of the sport’s biggest events in their former shop located in Stuart, Virginia has experienced a resurgence since Bayne’s Daytona win. Co-owner Leonard Wood has had some extra spring in his step over the last few weeks. Returning to the scene of prior success would seemingly only add to that.
Whether it be hometown folks, new fans who have latched on to Trevor Bayne or long time NASCAR followers who love the Wood Brothers, Bristol offers the opportunity for yet another feel good story. The Daytona win stirred enthusiasm and a return home for the driver as well as a return to the site of the team’s 2001 victory promises to add to the thrill.
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