NASCAR: Trevor Bayne, Two Car Drafting and Overall Thoughts on the Daytona 500

Orly Rios Jr.Analyst IIFebruary 22, 2011

Trevor Bayne celebrated his 20th birthday by winning the Daytona 500.
Trevor Bayne celebrated his 20th birthday by winning the Daytona 500.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

What a race that was.

On what was the 10th anniversary of the passing of Dale Earnhardt, Sunday's Daytona 500 paid tribute to a new generation of NASCAR drivers.

Trevor Bayne, who was 10 years old at the time of the fatal crash by Dale Earnhardt on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, celebrated his 20th birthday by winning the biggest race in NASCAR.

The Daytona 500, which is considered the Super Bowl of NASCAR, is the most celebrated and most highly anticipated race of the year.

This year's Daytona 500 not only recognized the 10th anniversary of the passing of "The Intimidator," but also marked the first time that the Daytona 500 was run with the new pavement.

The new pavement not only changed the race track's physical appearance, it also changed the outcome of the way Daytona was being raced.

Gone are the days of pack running on either the high or low line and in is the day of the two car bump draft.

As was seen at the Budweiser Shootout back on February 12, if two cars hooked up and were running in clean air, they were almost guaranteed to run faster than the traditional pack-drafting of Daytona pre-repavement.

In some instances, a two car bump draft would hit 200 miles per hour while a car that got out of line could fall back to 175 mph. Partnered cars were often trading places between the lead car and the pushing car for fear of overheating the engine.

Often, you would see the pushing car swing out to the right or left to catch clean air before getting right back on the bumper.

The two car bump draft also caused almost video game like closing speeds, often a 20 mph difference, leading to the three biggest crashes at Daytona on Sunday, including the first major crash that took three of the four Hendrick cars (Mark Martin, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson).

Overall, there were 74 lead changes, 16 cautions and 22 different leaders, including both the Busch and Labonte brothers.

In the end, racing at Daytona has forever changed.

No longer will we see the traditional high line getting the strong push down the back end before turns three and four, but rather, we'll see two-car partnered bump drafting, leading to multiple car length leads before partnered racers make a run in clean air.

The crashes will be bigger, the number of cars taken out larger, and chances of winning smaller and yet in the end, the story written about the Daytona 500 will never change.

It is the great American race and for 20 year old Trevor Bayne, it may be the only race that ever matters.

What took Dale Earnhardt 19 chances to win, Bayne did in his first.