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Bayne to stick with Nationwide campaign

23 February 2011

Winning the Daytona 500 is invariably described as a "life-changing" experience, but despite being only 20 years old and having won the Great American Race - and the prize money of some $1,463,813 - in only his second Sprint Cup start, Trevor Bayne is working hard not to let it change him.

In particular, he specifically ruled out a change of NASCAR series in 2011 in the wake of his victory.

Under new rules NASCAR brought in at the start of the year, drivers only earn championship points in one series out of the three that NASCAR operates - Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck. The drivers have to nominate their chosen series in advance, and Trevor Bayne had selected the Nationwide option which is why he is not shown with any points in the Sprint Cup championship despite his stunning win in Daytona.

The rules still allow Bayne to switch his nominated series if he wanted to - but it would not apply retrospectively, so he would still not be credited with the 47pts he would have got on Sunday even if he were to change now. However, the race win would still count toward any calculations for who gets into the Chase, where the two drivers with the most number of wins not through on points get through to the final title-deciding 10-race end sequence.

Given that Bayne was only signed to run in 17 Sprint Cup races (out of 36), a switch would not make sense at this point unless sponsors for a full season bid could be lined up. On the back of the Daytona success, his team in the series - the venerable Wood Brothers Racing outfit - is looking to see whether it opens up any further sponsorship deals that will allow them to run Bayne at more events. Already, the team have added an 18th race by signing the #21 car up to compete at Martinsville, the sixth race of the season on April 3.

Even if Wood Brothers do get significantly more funding for the #21, Bayne seems set on not getting carried away and plans to carry on paying his dues with a full year in Nationwide and a serious attempt on the title.

"I think I am going to stay with Nationwide," he said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. ""I am still not full-time Cup and I am going to run for the championship in Nationwide. I don't regret any of our decisions there. We are off to a good start in both series with a tenth and a first.

"I think it is a great thing they [the Nationwide Series] are doing for the sport for the young drivers there to be able to rise up as champions," he continued. "I think we are still going to have an awesome year for Roush Fenway running for that Nationwide championship."

Bayne is signed to a full year in Nationwide with Roush Fenway despite a current lack of sponsorship for the car, something that should change in light of the publicity surrounding his Daytona win: "Obviously they still have a blank car. I'd love to get some partners on it.

"Nothing has really changed for me other than that I am the Daytona 500 champion - which is really incredible," he added, also revealing that a high point of his post-race celebration had been a call from Washington DC: "When the White House called and said that the president wanted to speak to me in the next couple of days that was really cool. I was blown away by that." Initially, Bayne said that he "had no idea who it was. Just a private number came up on my phone."

The "fairytale" win for Bayne has certainly grabbed the fan and media attention in the US. In the States, average viewing figures for the race were up 17 per cent over 2010 when the race was competing in the ratings with the Winter Olympics, and additionally suffered a lengthy delay because of a pothole that developed on the circuit and which led to the complete resurfacing of the Daytona International Speedway at the end of the year. Fox said that the live broadcast in 2011 was seen by 30.1 million viewers in total, averaging 15.6 million over the whole running time. Viewing figures for the start of the race were 7 per cent higher than 2010, while 19.8 million viewers tuned in for the final 30 minutes of action.

"I have had so many people come up to me and say that this is exactly what the sport needed," said Bayne when the media asked whether his out-of-the-blue victory at such a young age had captured the imagination of both long-term fans and newcomers to watching the sport. "I am just glad I am the lucky one in this situation."


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