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Twelve Historic Daytona 500’s: Trevor Bayne takes advantage of the two car tango in 2011

By admin | February 6, 2014

 I have been a NASCAR fan for as long as I can remember, and a significant number of my racing memories have come from the Daytona 500. There have been 55 Daytona 500’s to this point and every one of them has been historic in its own right. In this series that will run in the days leading up to this year’s running of ‘The Great American Race’, I will list the twelve versions of the sport’s most important event that I consider to be the most noteworthy.

 Trevor Bayne celebrates a most unlikely victory after the 2011 Daytona 500.

By Richard Allen

 Sometimes the right person meets up with the right circumstances and history is made in the process. That’s exactly what happened during the running of the 2011 Daytona 500. After NASCAR made a series of rule changes for the restrictor plate tracks, drivers came to realize that the fastest way around the 2.5 mile facility was to work together in tight, two-car tandems. The Knoxville, Tenn. native was among the first to get the knack for the new style of paired racing, and thus, became a favorite among other drivers as a drafting partner.

Bayne, who turned 20 years old just prior to the 500, very nearly experienced disaster during the Thursday qualifying race when his car was damaged in an incident as drivers raced to the checkered flag. However, the legendary Wood Brothers team was able to repair the famed #21 Ford in time for Sunday’s main event.

 There were multiple crashes throughout the running of this Daytona 500 as drivers struggled to get a feel for the 2×2 tandem racing that was going on out on the track. Several top contenders were eliminated via these wrecks and mechanical issues leaving Bayne and pseudo Ford teammate David Ragan to battle for the victory.

 Crashes took out the likes of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

On a late race restart, Ragan was black-flagged for changing lanes before he crossed the start/finish line to take the green flag. After a final green/white/checkered restart, Bayne received a push from Bobby Labonte then held off Carl Edwards to take the most unexpected win.

Trevor Bayne edges Carl Edwards and David Gilliland at the finish of the 2011 Daytona 500.

“I keep thinking I’m dreaming, I really do,” Bayne said after the finish. “It’s unbelievable. Our first 500, are you kidding me? To win our first one? Our second-ever Cup race?

 ”How cool is it to have the Wood Brothers back in victory lane,” the youngest winner of the Daytona 500 asked of his Hall of Fame laden team.

Later, Bayne said that the full impact of what he had accomplished came to light when he talked with the Wood brothers. “They said it was as cool as Pearson’s win and that’s when it sinks in because I don’t put myself on that kind of a stage with those guys. I don’t think of myself doing the same thing that David Pearson did or A.J. Foyt or Tiny Lund or Cale Yarborough.

“When they made that comment, that this was one of the coolest 500 wins, that’s when I thought, ‘Wow! This is real’. This is something that a lot of people strive for their whole career. This is one of the biggest races in motorsports and we’re the ones in Victory Lane.”

The race featured an all-time high of 74 lead changes due to the new type of tandem racing. It also featured an all-time high of 16 cautions flags, perhaps because of the new type of racing as well.

The 2011 version of ‘The Great American Race’ was certainly one of the most historic of the 55 Daytona 500’s to have been contested.

*On a personal note, my son and I met with Trevor at a local Knoxville restaurant for an interview just months prior to his victory. After we talked, Trevor was kind enough to pose with my son for the picture below. When the photo first ran, I labeled it ‘Two Future Winners of the Daytona 500′. After the 2011 race ended I jokingly reminded my son of that and said, “The pressure’s on you now.”

Trevor Bayne and Cody Allen

Topics: Articles |

7 Responses to “Twelve Historic Daytona 500’s: Trevor Bayne takes advantage of the two car tango in 2011”

  1. Ken Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Rich, there are a lot of fans who hated the two-car tandem drafting deal. I guess I must not know anything, as I personally liked it. If I remember, although my wife is often accusing me of suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, there wasn’t a “big one” like everyone expects at restrictor plate races. The “big one” is the reason I hate restrictor plate races. However, there were some incidents that stood out, and I think these are the primary reasons for everyone’s hatred of the tandem draft. You show one reason in one of your photos in this article, the one that shows Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon getting out of shape. Is that third car Mark Martin? Then, much later, Trevor Bayne hung Jeff Gordon out to dry at the fall race at Talladega. I felt so sorry for Jeff. Not! The Hendrick drivers have a very strong fan base, and for the Fords to have been the one manufacturer that got a grip on the tandem style of drafting, that didn’t sit very well with a lot of people. Add to this, Fords won both Daytona races that year. They finished one-two-three in the 500, then one-two at the Firecracker 400. We couldn’t let that happen again now, could we?

    By the way, I thought the 2011 Daytona 500, was one of the best, right up there with the 1976 race! It was won by a Ford, driven by a young virtually unknown driving for an iconic team. And the Chevys got skunked! Truly a Cinderella story!

  2. Gregory D. Howe Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Chalk this up as a moral victory, it certainly didn’t solidify major sponsorship opportunities that might have enabled the team to run a full schedule. The Tandem Tango was such an interesting phenomenon and someone who brought no ingrained habits adapted easily and quickly to become the ultimate Pusher. In a sad twist of fate for another immensely talented driver named David Ragan, the Pusher became the victor. To use a phrase that is currently running on commercial television, I fervently hope lightning does strike twice in the same place.

  3. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 7th, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I think in Daytona 500 History, the fact 1990, 2002 and 2011 are not lost on folks as the true upsets in Track History. And I am sure that Tennessee Trevor’s 2011 Upset and John King’s 2012 Truck Upset will be in the Top 60 in Daytona International Speedway Track History Victories in 2018.

  4. Jacob Says:
    February 7th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Trevor Blayne is overrated.

  5. amazed Says:
    February 7th, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I am not one of those really believe Trevor had a true Cinderella story. It’s Daytona a very overrated race and truly is a crapshoot, not one of necessary skill or brilliance, guess thats the “magic”. Yes all races have that component, I know. But it is hype, hype. This time of year we have to have the media saturation stories about Trevor and that race, it’s old already. What has he really done since? Last year in NW, I watched every race, I dunno his driving was very erratic, imo. I do not look forward to him in Cup, nor the bunch of other rookies coming up for that matter. I just don’t think the skill is there, look at Ricky, his struggles were woefully under reported, considering how much he was hyped.

  6. Offkilter Says:
    February 9th, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Trevor seems to be a good kid with his head on straight, but he needs to be more consistant and race like he belongs. The races that he gets up among the top 5 in NW, he seems to over-drive the car across multiple grooves. Maybe 14′ is the year he figures it all out. I like it when the classy guys do good.

  7. racefangurl Says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 10:05 am

    He had to have a coach when he was 19. He was too aggressive then, like young Jeff Gordon, as someone said. If his car wasn’t good, he’d overdrive it, if I remember correctly what I once read.