Trevor Bayne torn over series choice
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne said Monday he probably won't attempt to run for the Sprint Cup championship this year.
"I think we're probably just sticking with what we planned," Bayne said.
Scott Van Pelt
Trevor Bayne, 20, credits his fast car and avoiding the big wreck to winning the Daytona 500. We hear his reaction with his crew. Bayne says having Jeff Gordon and other top drivers join him at victory lane was incredible.
Bayne is a Nationwide Series driver for Roush-Fenway Racing and planned to run for the title this season in NASCAR's second level. On loan to the Wood Brothers for 17 races in the Cup Series, he stunned a veteran field Sunday by becoming the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history with a surprise victory in NASCAR's biggest race.
NASCAR rules this season made drivers pick just one series to collect points, and Bayne chose the second-tier Nationwide Series. He can change his mind, but he would not be given retroactive points for the Daytona 500.
NASCAR officials said Monday the win would count toward seeding in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, but he would not receive any points for Sunday's race.
NASCAR this year changed the format for the 12-driver Chase field. The top 10 in points after the 26th race of the season make the Chase, with the final two spots going to drivers with the most wins who aren't already eligible. The drivers would have to be ranked inside the top 20.
If Bayne was to change his mind and choose to run for the Sprint Cup Championship, Roush-Fenway seems open to such a scenario.
"If Wood Brothers co-owners Len and Eddie came, then we're always willing to entertain discussions," Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark told USA Today. "There's been a lot of increased cooperation among the Ford camp to try to get the blue oval in victory lane as much as we can this year."
Bayne is up against several obstacles. The Woods don't have funding for a full season, and even though they picked up $1,462,563 for the Daytona win, they'll need sponsorship to run all 36 points races. The team has already said it will go to Martinsville, the sixth race of the season which was not on the original team schedule.
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But even if Bayne did choose to attempt the full Cup schedule, the No. 21 Ford isn't exactly running up front each week. Bayne's win was the first since 2001 for NASCAR's oldest team, and only the fourth victory in the last 20 years. The team hasn't run a full Cup schedule since 2006.
"One thing I haven't really talked about is keeping our expectations realistic here," Bayne said. "We won this race and that sets the bar high, but if we would have finished 15th, we would have been happy. We've got remember that for the rest of the season.
"There are going to be a lot of times when we do struggle because I'm new at this. A lot of new pieces have come together, so I think we've got to keep that realistic and just race right now."
But Bayne also has obstacles in the Nationwide Series, where he raced in an unsponsored car Saturday at Daytona and Roush has no funding lined up at this time. The team had planned to run Bayne out of pocket until something turned up.
He's also beholden to team owner Jack Roush, who controls Bayne's contract right now and simply loaned him to the Woods' as an opportunity to get Bayne seat time this year. Roush snapped him up late last season when Michael Waltrip Racing, which had fielded cars for Bayne since late 2009, couldn't promise a ride for this year.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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2011 Daytona 500
The 53rd running of the Daytona 500 is on the horizon, with a new racing surface greeting competitors heading into a new season of hope. It all begins Feb. 20 at Daytona International Speedway.