By admin | December 26, 2011
By Richard Allen
When deciding the greatest moment of the 2011 NASCAR season many may feel as though the choice is somewhat of a no brainer. Tony Stewart’s miraculous run through the final ten races of the season capped by his championship clinching victory at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in the season finale was one of the great moments in sports championship history.
So, fans from all over the country would likely choose Stewart’s title run as the greatest racing moment of 2011.
But that’s fans from all over the country. Race fans and non-race fans alike across the geographic region known as east Tennessee would almost in unison choose another moment as the season’s best. And that moment occurred at the very beginning of the year.
Trevor Bayne electrified folks from his hometown of Knoxville and the surrounding area when he pulled off the most unlikely of upsets by capturing the season opening Daytona 500. No matter what region of the country those who witnessed that race may have been from, it was hard to deny the feel good nature of this underdog story.
And to add to the feel good nature of the story, Bayne drove for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team, which had not been to victory lane for any race since Elliott Sadler won for them at the Bristol Motor Speedway in 2001. The famous number 21 car had not scored a Daytona 500 triumph since David Pearson won ‘The Great American Race’ in 1976.
But that win did not necessarily lead to a great rest of the season for Bayne. The driver who had just turned 20 years old the day before his magical win was later stricken with a mysterious illness that sidelined him from five Nationwide Series races in the mid part of the season.
However, Bayne did recover from his illness and went on to confirm his Sprint Cup victory by notching a Nationwide win at the Texas Motor Speedway in November.
While Tony Stewart’s late season run may be the more nationally accepted choice for greatest moment of the 2011 NASCAR season, local favorite Trevor Bayne gets the nod among many of his neighbors east Tennessee.
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