DAYTONA BEACH — Nearly one year after his stunning victory in the Daytona 500, Trevor Bayne's trophy still sits in the bedroom of his family home in Knoxville, Tenn.
The race changed his life in ways he could have never imagined, but it hasn't changed who he is.
"The trophy is still in my room," Bayne said. "It's funny because the Daytona trophy is sitting right next to all my go-cart trophies, and Allison Legacy trophies and all that. The ring is in North Carolina and my Texas trophy is in North Carolina, but that one is at home. I thought it was cool having it there because all my friends that I grew up with and my family can come over and check it out and see it. It's on my dresser just hanging out. It's still got Gatorade and confetti on it."
Last February, one day after turning 20, Bayne stunned NASCAR by winning the Daytona 500 with an overtime victory.
"That was a Cinderella story," driver Kurt Busch said.
Bayne became the youngest driver to win the race in the No. 21 Ford for the Wood Brothers team.
"It was remarkable, but if you look at the history, do the math, take the averages, the Wood Brothers have done this for 43 years," Ryan Newman said. "They should be able to help a kid that has never done it to be successful at it. … Trevor did an awesome job. He proved himself all week long."
Now Bayne is trying to prove himself again. Neither Wood Brothers Racing nor Roush Fenway Racing opted to field a car for him in tonight's exhibition Budweiser Shootout. And Bayne said there has been no talk of point-swapping to guarantee him a spot in the 500.
"It's gonna be a lot of pressure if we have to race into it," he said. "Hopefully we'll just qualify on Sunday and be good to go."
It took months for Bayne to fully grasp the magnitude of winning the 500 in just his second Sprint Cup race. Sometimes, he's still in awe.
"Every time I watch it on TV it's the same thing: I turn my back on it because I still get nervous that something is gonna happen," he said.
With the victory has come whirlwind media tours, interviews and hanging out with celebrities. He was going to splurge on a new laptop after his crashed during a media tour, but as a guest on Lopez Tonight he mentioned it, and host George Lopez offered to buy him one. But with the fame has come scrutiny of his life and his Christian faith. Bayne said he admires the way Tim Tebow uses his platform, but he has taken a more low-key approach.
"I use my Twitter as kind of an outreach kind of thing, but as far as on my car stuff, that's all team," he said. "I don't even want to have to say anything. I want people to look at me and say, 'There's something different about this kid. He looks different. He acts different. He has joy.' "
His success at Daytona doesn't mean everything is perfect for Bayne. He's still running a schedule similar to the one he ran in Cup last year, which is about one per month in the No. 21 car. He had hoped to run a full season this year and compete for a championship.
"It's okay," he said. "We're just making the best of what we've got right now and it's tough to do that when you only have a few races. … Obviously as a young guy you want to have championships under your belt and full seasons. I still haven't spent a whole full season with one team yet in Nationwide, and I think that would be great to have that opportunity, but, right now, we're gonna run the first three races and kind of see where we stand, work on sponsorship deals. It just shows how tough it is right now. Here we are at Roush Fenway Racing with great things to offer and it's still tough for us, so we're working really hard at that."
SHOOTOUT DRAW: Martin Truex drew the pole for tonight's Budweiser Shootout exhibition race.
NASCAR NOTES: NASCAR confiscated part of Jimmie Johnson's Daytona 500 car because of illegal modifications. Cup officials ruled the No. 48 Chevrolet had illegal C-posts, an area of sheet metal between the roof and the side windows. It could lead to penalties for crew chief Chad Knaus and the team. … Defending Cup champion Tony Stewart was involved in a six-car wreck in practice for the Shootout. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger and Jeff Gordon also were involved. Stewart went to the infield care center and was treated and released.
NHRA: Shawn Langdon earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot in Top Fuel at the Arizona Nationals in Chandler. Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also led their classes. Qualifying ends today.
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from Times wires was used in this report.