Sunday, 20 February, was a day of excitement, thrills, victory and remembrance at Daytona International Speedway. Tribute was also paid to Dale Earnhardt Sr., who ten years ago, on the 18th of February, was involved in a fatal crash at Daytona. Always driving the number three car, fans stood in silence holding up three fingers on the third lap of the Daytona 500 in remembrance of a legend. It was not long after that, that the action on the speedway started, with black flags, car crashes and an unforgettable victory for Trevor Bayne.
The 2011 Daytona 500 was a race that kept everyone busy. Spectators were holding onto their seats as collisions caused restarts and no less than seventy-four lead changes. Clean up crews had their hands full and even Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were taken out the race due to a crash a mere six laps from the finish. The Daytona 500 was also sent into an overtime period due to another incident four laps from the finish. A mistake made by David Regan on a restart, by changing lanes too soon, saw Trevor Bayne take the lead, and experienced drivers fighting to find a way to outclass the twenty year old rookie.
Trevor Bayne drives for the Wood Brothers racing team, which was established in 1950 by Glen Wood. The team tasted their first success in North Carolina on 16 October 1960. But in the last ten years, the team has not enjoyed one victory, until their well-known red and white Ford crossed that finish line with an elated Bayne behind the wheel.
When asked about the black flag incident that put him in the lead, Bayne commented: “That rule is tough. Do I agree with it? I don’t know what to say because we’re sitting here in victory lane… Neither one of us might have ended up in victory lane had he not gotten black-flagged. I have to thank them for getting us up there because if it wasn’t for them we never would have been in that situation to take the lead.”
An elated Eddie Wood, team owner, commented: “We never did quit. We just kept trying. Bringing back the red and white car with the gold numbers that Pearson drove, that just seemed like it put things back to normal.”
Trevor Bayne also became the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500, in the history of the race.