Is Trevor Bayne the next big thing in NASCAR?

February 22, 2011

It's too soon to tell

George Diaz

Orlando Sentinel

It's awfully tempting to jump on the Trevor Bayne bandwagon — restrictor plates in place, of course — and celebrate a new era in stock car racing. And that would be truly preposterous.

You want to root for the kid and his team, the iconic Wood Brothers. It's easy to see why many media members broke protocol and cheered as Bayne's Ford crossed the finish line Sunday.

But the morning-after reality is this: Bayne isn't even scheduled to run a full Sprint Cup season (although that could change). He has run only two Cup races in his life. And the Daytona deal with the plates and the crazy bump-draft strategy makes for a far different animal than the usual grind he will find on other tracks.

The kid has great potential, and NASCAR would love for him to become the new face of the sport.

The future is promising. But the report card is incomplete.

gdiaz@tribune.com

Race promoter's dream

Jim Peltz

Los Angeles Times

Bayne, 20, could very well be the next big star in NASCAR, but one race does not a career make.

Bayne certainly has everything going for him at the moment: He's talented, composed, respected by his peers and mature beyond his years behind the wheel.

Still, Bayne is running only a limited schedule in the premier Sprint Cup Series this season, and much of his success will depend on whether he gets a full-time Cup ride with stout race cars.

If so, he would be a race promoter's dream and could help NASCAR's effort to appeal to younger fans. But even that wouldn't guarantee a championship for the young Tennessean. Just ask Kyle Busch, 25, who many argue is the best driver in NASCAR yet still is looking for his first title.

jpeltz@tribune.com

Maybe, but not in '11

Shawn Courchesne

Hartford Courant

Even if Trevor Bayne is the next big thing, it's highly unlikely fans will see that in 2011. If his Wood Brothers Racing team decides to run full-time in the Sprint Cup Series this year, Bayne likely would spend the season as an also-ran. Wood Brothers is hardly a top-tier team, and that isn't going to change based on Sunday's victory.

The reality of the series is the restrictor-plate racing at Daytona and Talladega can be a crap shoot. That means teams and drivers that aren't competitive on the majority of tracks can shock the sport in those four restrictor-plate races each season.

There's a good chance Bayne could end up in the Cup lineup with the top-level Roush Racing organization in 2012, and with a team like that, he could shine week in and week out. But it's not going to happen this year.

scourchesne@tribune.com

On the rise for years

Keith Groller

The Morning Call

While Trevor Bayne's victory Sunday may have been more a matter of luck, with many of the top contenders sidetracked by the flurry of fender-benders and other calamities, the 20-year-old has as much of a chance to become NASCAR's next big star as anyone.

Many Americans didn't know about him before Sunday, but he was considered a comer in NASCAR's inner circle for a few years. He had four poles, six top-fives and 13 top-10s in the Nationwide Series last year and was second in points among non-Cup drivers.

The Daytona win, and the PR-friendly way he handled it, should give him the perfect boost to secure the sponsors needed for more Sprint Cup starts this year. While it's unfair to say he's the next Jimmie Johnson, you haven't heard the last of Bayne.

kgroller@tribune.com

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