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Interview with Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne

Youngest Daytona 500 winner ever
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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Trevor Bayne
An interview with: TREVOR BAYNE

ASHLEY JONES: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference with our 2011 Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bayne. On Sunday Trevor became the seventh driver to earn his first win at the Daytona 500, doing it in just his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start. Trevor also became the youngest winner in Daytona 500 history just one day after his 20th birthday. Trevor also recorded Ford's 600th victory.

Trevor, you've had a couple of days to let this victory set in, so how has your mindset changed since you took the checkered flag on Sunday?

TREVOR BAYNE: Haven't had a lot of time to let it sink in yet. We've been go, go, go. As soon as I get 10 seconds to slow down and it starts to hit me, it's crazy. I never knew it would be this big. I knew the 500 was huge and it's been my dream since I was five years old. But, man, this is a really cool deal that I'm getting to experience.

ASHLEY JONES: We will now go to the media for questions for Trevor Bayne.

Q. How is your energy level? What has been the high point of this day and a half? What do you feel like the perception will be among your fellow competitors when you walk through that garage gate at Phoenix later this week?

TREVOR BAYNE: Well, you know, at first I was just in shock. I didn't know what to say. I was nervous in my interviews because I wanted to do it justice, just explain how big of a deal this was for the Wood Brothers and Donnie Wingo. I was scared to take any credit because I felt weird coming in winning our first one with all the other drivers that have been doing this for so long.

Now after seeing their support, they helped me realize we did earn this thing. I've been working at it since I was five years old. This team, there's nobody that deserves it more than Leonard, Eddie, Glen, Len Wood, and Donnie Wingo, his 31st Daytona 500. Now it's starting to set in a little bit.

We're so excited about it. I don't know how to thank them enough for the opportunity to drive that racecar, be in that position to win. I mean, it's taken its time to sink in.

The high point was when the White House called and said the President was going to want to talk to me in the next couple days. I haven't talked to him yet. I had no idea who it was. Just a private number came up on my phone. Jimmie Johnson called, Jeff Gordon. All of them have been showing their support, but that one was the one that shocked me the most.

Q. Trevor, the question of the day is now that NASCAR has basically defined what would happen if you chose to deselect Nationwide and select Cup, have you had any more thoughts about that? Have you decided what you're going to do now since we have Phoenix on the horizon?

TREVOR BAYNE: No, I think I'm going to stay with Nationwide. I think it's a great thing they're doing for the sport, for the young drivers there, to be able to rise up as champions. Nothing really changed. The only thing that changed is we get to be the Daytona 500 champions, which is really, really incredible.

I think we're still going to have an awesome year at Roush Fenway running for that Nationwide championship. Obviously they still have a blank car. I'd love to get some partners on it. As for now, we're still running full-time. The Wood Brothers only have 18 races, 17 with Ford Motorcraft, and Quick Lane and Ford.com. But the 18th race is the one we're going to run at Martinsville due to the funds we won at Daytona.

I'm still not full-time Cup, still going to run for the championship at Nationwide. I don't regret any of our decisions there. We're still off to a great start in both series with a win in the first.

Q. Trevor, years ago I talked to Richard Petty. He said, We run for two championships in NASCAR. I said, How so? He said, You run for the championship in points and then you run to win the Daytona 500. Do you have the sense of like you've done something that's of championship quality right now?

TREVOR BAYNE: I mean, I'm starting to take that in a little bit just because of all the hype around it. I've always known, like I said before, that this is an incredible thing, an incredible race. But it's an even bigger deal than I even expected.

I always wondered what it was that separated the Daytona 500 from all the other races, why it was that it meant so much to Mark Martin that he hadn't won one yet, or when Dale, Sr., finally got his win, what was that defining factor. Now I'm starting to see it.

The Daytona 500 is a big deal. It's so cool to win it. I feel so blessed, man. To have that good of a racecar, that I was in the position to be able to make the moves I made, to be guided, I can't describe how crazy it is that God surrounded me with these quality people, quality equipment, made it come together that perfect in our first-ever attempt.

Q. Trevor, over the past day and a half you've been on a whirlwind situation. How much fun has it been for you and your family to get into the limelight for the last day and a half?

TREVOR BAYNE: You know, I'm finally starting to enjoy it a little bit. At first, like I said, I was nervous. I didn't know what to do, what to say in all the interviews. I'm just learning just to be me on them because I'm thankful for everything that's happened. I want to stay humble.

Now I'm having a good time with all the people, cutting up. It's starting to become a lot of fun. I'm actually getting to enjoy this win a lot more than I expected in these last few days.

My family, unbelievable how they're taking it in, too. There's reporters in Knoxville calling my friends, my little brother, mom and dad, interviewing them. It's fun to see them get some credibility from it, too, because they're the supporting factor, the guys and girls that keep me sane off the track.

There's going to be pictures and billboards in my hometown of Knoxville, congratulations on it, movie theaters, my elementary school, all kinds of stuff. Just to see the hometown support and also the national support, I can't describe it. It's way more than I ever expected it to be.

Q. Trevor, these are really hard times. A lot of people can identify with you as an underdog whose hard work and persistence all paid off. Could you offer some words of encouragement to folks, whatever their walk, who are low on hope.

TREVOR BAYNE: There were times when I was down. There was a six-month period when I was out of a racecar and I thought it was going to be the most crucial year of my career. I thought that my 17- and 18-year-old years were going to be very, very crucial, and they were. But God had a plan for them all. When everything was falling apart last year, I didn't know what was happening. Had I not just followed His path, there's no way I'd be sitting here today as the Daytona 500 champion now.

It's like the prayer we said right before the race: Whether we have good results, bad results, whatever, grow us closer to you. If we were only going off of these results, wins, championship performance, the opinions of everybody, there's no way we'd ever feel good enough. When you have something like that to lean on, know that God is growing us closer to Him, even when we don't think they're good experiences, if we can take that out of it, we're never going to have a crash day. I'm not going to say I have a bad day and things go wrong, because they do. But there's something greater to it if we're just faithful.

Q. Trevor, can you explain to the people what was going through your mind with one lap to go. Here you are out there with a chance to win, yet there were also drivers out there that had been doing this for years. You actually must have said to yourself, Who and what do I watch out for?

TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, I mean, I had been watching the other races all weekend long, the Truck race, the Nationwide race. All the races I watched were won by a different driver than the one who was leading on the last lap. I was concerned about that. I didn't want to be the guy who was leading, the guy who was pushing him was able to make a move. I didn't want the second pack to come up behind us and catch us.

I really couldn't have planned it any better. I didn't plan it that way. To be honest with you, I planned it totally different. It probably wouldn't have worked.

The way it all happened with the 47 car, Bobby Labonte giving us that incredible push out to the lead, Carl Edwards breaking up 42 and 22 cars, breaking up the little pack that they had together, drafting us, catching us, Carl making the move to the inside, I was able to wait till he got inside the 47, then pull down, be able to hold him off.

Had the 47 not left a little bit of room down low, Carl might not have been able to fit in, he might have went high. There's a lot of different scenarios that could have happened. But I'm just so thankful it played out the way it did and we were able to hold everybody off.

Q. Trevor, last October I wasn't sure if I was going to get to interview you because you'd been dropped from Waltrip Racing. Had to struggle to find your hauler in the Nationwide garage. Just the fact that you went from that place to winning the Daytona 500 a few months later, how does that underscore your belief in what you told me that day, is that this is bigger than racing for you?

TREVOR BAYNE: It is. You know, before this ever happened, I had a meeting with some of the people that are running my business stuff, running my financial and everything. My dad was involved. We sat down and we said, What is the goal of Trevor Bayne as a company, as a person, as anything? I told them, I said, The goal, this is going to sound weird, but it's not to be the best racecar driver, the most marketable, the most popular, but it's to build a platform and let God use us on the platform that He's building, which might require me to become the best racecar driver or be the most marketable or most popular, whatever it is. I just want to stand on the platform He's putting under me. That's our goal. If that's our goal, our highs and lows are going to be a lot more manageable.

Q. Trevor, where are you calling from? What was it like being at ESPN yesterday, kind of being the center of attention up there?

TREVOR BAYNE: That was really cool going to the ESPN studios. I actually got to go last year. This year I didn't feel like I was interrupting their shows for something. I actually felt like they wanted me there a little more, so that was cool.

I am in a car on the way to the airport to fly to San Francisco. We left a little meet-and-greet with all the people from Chicagoland Speedway, some fans. But now we're getting ready to fly to San Francisco to be presented in Ghirardelli Square with an ice cream sundae. I don't know exactly what is going to happen, but we're going to San Francisco, which is cool.

Q. You've raced several times at the track in Newton, Iowa. Want to get your perspective about it. I see you're committed to coming back here for a couple runs. What's been your impression of that track over the years?

TREVOR BAYNE: I think Newton, Iowa Speedway, is really cool. I love those kind of tracks. I remember the first time I raced there, felt like it was so much bigger than all the tracks I've been racing on. Now when I go back, it feels like a short track.

It's such a neat track. I mean, it's really competitive. We see great races there. Fans always love it. Pack out the place. The fans get more excited there than I've ever seen anywhere else. That's a really good market for NASCAR. I'm glad that everybody enjoys it so much.

Q. Trevor, I know about three years ago you spent a lot of time in the K&N series in New England. Talk about the time you spent racing around the tracks up here like Thompson. Talk about your experiences there and how it shaped you as a driver going forward.

TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, even before that we raced up in Lake Erie, Poughkeepsie. We ran all around the Pennsylvania, New York areas, Chapel Hill. That was in go-karts, awesome legacy, like I said. Then in the K&N series, we raced Thompson. That was my first-ever NASCAR win. It wasn't a top-three series, but it was a NASCAR win. That was my only win that year in the series. We took the pole as well. Where else did we race? Adirondack there, had a great run, finished second.

The Northeast has been really, really good to us. I always like coming up in the area. I'm looking forward to coming up that way some more to Loudon, doing that stuff. Loudon was actually really good to us last year. We finished I think third at Loudon or fifth or something like that, top five. Like I said, the Northeast has been really good to us.

Q. Trevor, what are you expecting out of the June 4th Nationwide race at Chicagoland Speedway? Are you really into a lot of history with NASCAR, having the Wood Brothers as your Cup team owners?

TREVOR BAYNE: Well, first question, I am excited about Chicagoland. I found out today I'm running all three races there. That's really neat. I spent some time with the promoters, the other track people today. They were really, really good people. Really happy about the fan support they're getting now.

About the history, I mean, I definitely have watched a lot of highlight footage. Ever since I've been with the Wood Brothers, they are big history people. They have a lot of history. They've taken me through their shop. I've talked to David Pearson, met Richard Petty, hung out with him for a while.

You have to love this sport. NASCAR is one of the sports that stays true to its foundation. They have the Hall of Fame, David Pearson being inducted this year. They have a lot of history stuff going on. I really appreciate that from him, remembering the people that founded this ground that we're walking on now.

Q. Trevor, could you talk about what it means to pull off such a popular win? Even though the Daytona 500 was your second start, the biggest race of the year, you had so many people who were so happy for you. Can you talk about what it means to pull off a win that has been really well-received with both the drivers and fans.

TREVOR BAYNE: I can't thank them enough. Like I said, I was kind of worried about that at first, thinking I was a punk 20-year-old kid to steal their thunder. To see the driver support is huge to me. They've taken to me well and helped me out. If it wasn't for Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, David Ragan, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., there were so many guys I worked with in that race, if it wasn't for them, there is no way I could have won it. A lot of this goes to them as well.

Also because I think a lot of guys like to see that Wood Brothers car back in Victory Lane. That's a big part of NASCAR history. I mean, the Wood Brothers are one of the greatest families in NASCAR still. They deserve it. Donnie Wingo as my crew chief, everybody loves him. We have a great group surrounding us. Everybody is really pumped for us. I think it's well-deserved for the Wood Brothers. I'm just glad that I was fortunate enough to be the one to get them back in Victory Lane.

Q. Trevor, we're all enjoying following your bright smile. Everywhere we go I run into people who aren't huge NASCAR fans, talking about the kid who won the Daytona 500. I don't know if you're feeling any of that. Also if you could talk about your crew chief, Donnie Wingo. He's back preparing the next car.

TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah, I mean, this has been so well-received by everybody. We've had media outlets that have never been interested in NASCAR. I don't know if it's because it's such an underdog story, the history, the oldest team with the youngest driver. Everybody has taken to this so well. I've had so many people come up to me and say it's exactly what the sport needed.

Like I said before, I'm glad I got to be the lucky one in that situation.

Donnie Wingo you were asking about, what a great guy. He's one of the best crew chiefs I've worked with. Just really calm all the time. Doesn't get real excited. Even when I asked him after the race, I said, Did you think we could do this? He said, Yeah, I knew we could. He never doubted it. We had great guys, awesome parts and engines, Ford coming onboard to support us to begin with. He knew we had everything it would take. I know he believes that for every single race this season. We have to manage our expectations and know we can't do this every week. It's only our first year, our third race coming up at Phoenix.

As soon as the celebrations were over there Monday morning, he was back at the shop working hard, getting ready to go to Phoenix. Can't thank him and everybody in our group enough for being so dedicated to running good this season.

Q. Your newfound celebrity, do you feel prepared? How do you expect to handle things like if you get in a fender-bender now? If you get a girlfriend, that's now news. Things off the track that people wouldn't have even made a big deal about before now can be a big deal because you're the Daytona 500 winner.

TREVOR BAYNE: Well, I think that can be good and bad both ways. That's where I have to be true to who Trevor Bayne is. I don't want to have anything to hide. I want to be as public as possible and truthful as possible and be the same person I am in the media as I am away from it. I've tried to do that, try to stay humble through it all.

It is crazy how much attention has been drawn to this. I never expected it. I'm so thankful for the fact that this might help our race teams be able to find partners to go on these racecars. I had that solid white suit on for the Roush Fenway Nationwide car. That thing was not looking good. I hope this draws some more interest.

You're right, it does draw some attention that might be a lot to handle, but I know that God is not going to give me more than I can handle. Might be too much for Trevor Bayne to handle, but never too much for Him to handle. There's going to be days before I made this decision to run for the Wood Brothers in Cup this year, I prayed whatever would happen would be something that would draw me closer to Him. I thought it would be because of struggles, because it would be tough. Now it's because of the success. So just have to manage the mountaintops, know there might be bad days ahead, but be excited when we do get them because this is really good for the sport and we're really excited about everything.

Q. Trevor, I believe NASCAR is off the week before Bristol. Peyton Manning has mastered the art of getting back to Knoxville under the radar. Will you try to get back here at all? How much more challenging will that be to live a normal life in your native hometown than it was maybe last year?

TREVOR BAYNE: Oh, man, I can't wait to get back to Knoxville. I wish I was there this week. All my friends have been sending me pictures of billboards, movie signs, school signs. I can't thank Knoxville enough for the support they've given me through the years, not just for this win, but all along I have people that I grew up with, from church, family. I'm sure I'm going to try to get back. I don't know when it's gonna be. Like I said, I wish I was there this week to celebrate with everybody because I hear it's pretty awesome in Knoxville right now. I love that town and can't wait to get back.

Q. Trevor, the whole celebrity experience, I know it's been only a couple of days, but have you met anyone that kind of gave you a 'wow' factor?

TREVOR BAYNE: You know, I haven't crossed paths with anybody yet. We've been doing media tours and all kinds of stuff. When we were at ESPN, they asked who I'd like to meet and I said Troy Polamalu and Tom White. They said, We're sure that can happen. You can meet whoever you want to now. I thought that was kind of cool. Obviously, when the White House called and said the President would like to speak to us within the next couple of days, whether that will happen or not, I don't know. That was cool they called. I was blown away by that.

Q. The Daytona 500 being as stressful as it is just to be in it, but talk about the new two-car draft situation. How was that?

TREVOR BAYNE: Well, you know, when we went out to qualify and qualified third, I think that changed a lot of drivers' perspectives, their ability to work with us. They knew we had a fast car. I think that made them more willing. Jeff Gordon hooking up with us, letting us push him around, that rubbed off on all the other drivers. If Jeff Gordon has trust in this kid, maybe I should too. I think that's what happened in the 500, so many drivers being able to work with us. Obviously the experience I got in the Nationwide Series on Saturday definitely translated and helped me in the Cup Series on Sunday.

I loved being the pusher. I felt like I could stay out of trouble more. I talked to Joey Logano one caution and said I'd love to push you. We didn't end up working with each other because we both wanted to be the pusher for the same reason.

I planned on pushing till the end, but it ended up we were the ones being pushed. Definitely cool the way it played out. I loved the kind of racing it was. I loved watching it in the first Duel. I wasn't in that. As a driver it was cool to watch because I knew how much was going on in the racecars, how the air worked. I thought it was fun to watch, and I hope it was for the fans.

Q. A lot of the drivers, particularly Darrel Waltrip during the broadcast, Junior spoke about you afterwards, a lot of the drivers that did talk to you, can you remember did anyone give you advice as you were driving around Sunday that stuck in your head?

TREVOR BAYNE: Yeah. Talking to David Pearson, it was small, simple advice that a lot of people would tell me. Just with him it stuck. He was just saying, kind of jokingly, they asked him on ESPN if he had any advice. He said, Be careful. Do the 21 car some justice. That stuck out.

I entered that race with a totally different mindset than I normally had. As a 19-, 20-year-old, you manage a lot of your things off of performance. You want to be the guy that leads every lap, you want to make a statement, you want to do everything right. You put a lot of pressure on yourself.

When he said that, I went into the race in kind of survival mode for the first 150 laps thinking, I have to get to the end of this, avoid any crashes, push, not be pushed, just be smart the whole time. That was crucial because that kept me calm, that kept me patient when we would drop to the back on some of the restarts to push back up to the field. Then at the end, just to make smart moves.

Hopefully we did the 21 car some justice like he asked us to do. I think seeing him back in Victory Lane might have done it for him, so I hope so.

ASHLEY JONES: Trevor, thank you so much for your time. Thank you to the media who participated today. We appreciate your time and your interest in our sport. Have a great day.

TREVOR BAYNE: Thank you.

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