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2011 Daytona 500: A Cinderella Story

It’s time for me to make a public confession. I am a big NASCAR fan. And just by looking at the nearly 3,500 fans on Colorado National Speedway’s Facebook page, I’m guessing I’m not the only one. I’ve also seen a bunch of you passing me like I’m standing still on I-25. Who doesn’t like speed anyway?

Daytona 500 - Victory Lane
Photo by Matthew Stockman, Getty Images for NASCAR

Mostly I watch the races in the Sprint Cup Series. I haven’t missed a cup race in nearly a decade. That’s almost 390 races including the Bud Shootout, Gatorade Duels and the All Star race. I was watching the 43rd Daytona 500 on that fateful day February 18th 2001 when we lost Dale Earnhardt in that last lap crash. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 10 years.

So whether you are NASCAR fan like me or new to the sport, the 53rd Daytona 500 was truly eventful. The race was won by 20 year old rookie Trevor Bayne in only his second cup race…ever! Bayne’s win, the first for the Wood Brothers racing team since David Pearson went to Victory Circle in 1976, was only the second time in Daytona history a driver in his first Daytona 500 won the “Superbowl of NASCAR” since Lee Petty’s win in the inaugural race back in 1959. Trevor was so elated with the win he kept asking his crew chief on the radio, “Are you kidding?” He also needed directions to Victory Circle. All of this makes for a spectacular birthday present – Trevor turned 20 the day before his big win.

With this Cinderella story many racing fans are wondering if Trevor Bayne may be the next “Phenom” asking, “Joey who?” Of course I am referring to third-year cup racer, 20 year old Joey Logano, who began his cup career at the tender age of 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing driving the number 20 Home Depot Toyota. Joey was 19 when he won his first race in 2009 at New Hampshire which makes him the youngest driver to ever win a cup race with Trevor now the second youngest driver by a mere 300 days.

The other major story about the race was the brand new racing surface on the track, the first time the track was repaved since 1979. Speeds were over 200 mph with the “two car tango” cars running in two’s nose to tail throughout the entire race. This made for some incredible passing and some incredible wrecks.

Other notable things you may have missed at the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 including:

  • Awesome musical performance with Brad Paisley
  • Flawless performance of the National Anthem by Martina McBride
  • Touching tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt with a moment of silence at lap “3”, Dale’s car number, with everyone in the stands holding up their hands with three fingers
  • Record number of leaders – 22
  • Record number of lead changes – 74
  • 16 cautions and 60 caution laps
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. nearly winning the race until he crashed during the first of two green-white-checkers
  • And of course that incredible win by Trevor Bayne, .118 seconds ahead of second-place Carl Edwards

Hopefully I’ve caught you up on what was a great Daytona 500. If you are new to racing hopefully I’ve given you enough background to make you want to watch next Sunday’s race in Phoenix. By the way who is your favorite driver? In the Allen house it’s the #24 of Jeff Gordon. This is his year to win his 5th Sprint Cup. Go Jeff!!!

Maybe I’ll see you at the speedway this year.

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