Sunday, February 27, 2011

What do you do if you win the Daytona 500???

What do you do if you win the Daytona 500? Well, if you’re Trevor Bayne you...

… get marriage proposals.

… take a call from the White House.

… get a police escort through San Francisco.

… do the ‘Ellen’ show, and while you’re waiting to go on stage get another call from Washington, D.C., this time from Vice President Joe Biden.

… get invited to the White House; told to bring whoever you want.

… talk to Tim Tebow about faith.

… chat with Pam Anderson about how you remind her of her son.

… are a guest on ‘Lopez Tonight.’

… give your phone number to singer Bobby Valentino, who wants it in case he decides to come to a race.

And none of these is the coolest thing. That comes in the form of a text message you get from your ex-girlfriend who’s doing mission work in India. In the text is a photo of her and some kids from the slums. They’re holding a banner that reads, “Good job, Trevor. We’re proud.”

They’re proud of you, in freaking India!

You’re just two races into your Cup career. You win the second of those. Who comes to congratulate you in victory lane? If you’re Trevor Bayne, it’s Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch and newly-elected Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett, just to name a few.

“He’s one of a group of young guys who’s come in and they just treat people right and they earn that respect off of the race track,” Edwards explains. “They earn that respect off of the race track, so that when they do something good, people are happy for them. It says a lot more about them as people than it does about them as race car drivers.”

Because of all the notoriety, you’re given the opportunity to amend your decision to race for the championship in the Sprint Cup Series instead of the Triple-A Nationwide Series. Do you jump at the opportunity?

It’s enticing, but if you’re Trevor Bayne, you understand that NASCAR is trying to build up the sport by highlighting up-and-coming talent. You recognize that you’re part of that effort, so to shun the Nationwide title for the big-time opportunity in Cup isn’t what NASCAR needs right now.

You just turned 20 years old. The next day you win $1.5 million. What would be your first big purchase? If you’re Trevor Bayne, nothing.

“I tried to talk him into buying something expensive with his prize money,” Danica Patrick said of a conversation she had with Bayne at a charity event Thursday in the Phoenix area. “He said he didn’t want anything. Apparently I have a lot to learn from a 20-year-old.”

For winning the Daytona 500, you’re given one of those gaudy championship rings that screams bling. Do you take it off? If you’re Trevor Bayne, only when you take a shower.

“The first couple of nights I was scared I’d wake up and it would be a dream,” you explain, “so I wanted to keep it on so I could wake up and look down and make sure it’s still there.”

Five days after besting three future Hall of Famers – Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin – heads up to win the biggest race in your sport, you’re asked how you will stay grounded. What do you say?

If you’re Trevor Bayne, you talk about all the people who got you where you are today – family, friends, fellow drivers, owners, crew chiefs, God – and about how if you didn’t mention them it “would be a complete lie.”

Then you go out and slam the wall in your first lap behind the wheel since taking the checkered flag in the Daytona 500.

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