For a moment, it looked like the Daytona 500 was destined to be remembered for the crashes and cautions. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. smacked the wall on the restart, during the first attempt at a green-and-white-checkered finish, the star-power in the field faded away, fallen by the wayside after numerous crashes at Daytona International Speedway zapped many of the familiar names. But Trevor Bayne came out of nowhere down to the wire, driving like a pro in just his second career race to give us an incredible storyline.
Bayne was a rookie in every sense of the world, never before racing in a Daytona 500 and being about as green as they come. At 20 years old, Bayne became the youngest driver to win a 500, leading the way into the tri-oval and holding off a hard-charging pack that included Carl Edwards and Bobby Labonte. It was almost too unbelievable to see a fresh-faced 20-year-old out-maneuver some of NASCAR's finest over 500 miles.
The whole story surrounding his win makes it a feel-good tale for fans that watched from afar. Bayne's birthday was on Saturday -- just one day before he took the track for the Daytona 500. At 20 years and one day old, Bayne easily eclipsed the youngest-driver mark set by Jeff Gordon, breaking that by over five and a half years. Gordon started on the outside of the first row on Sunday, but was caught up in a massive wreck early on.
SB Nation's Jeff Gluck has Bayne's back story, and it's one that makes him even more likable. From his nickname -- T-Bayne -- to his brash prediction that he'd win a race this year -- only in the Nationwide Series, though -- Bayne is a guy NASCAR could use. Whether it was luck or the beginning of something special, Bayne's performance at Sunday's Daytona 500 was an impressive display, capping a race that alternated between wild and slow-going under caution.
When it was all said and done, Bayne found himself doing donuts on the track and cruising into the winner's circle at Daytona. Not a bad day for a driver that just exited his teenage years.
For more on the race, check out our Daytona 500 StoryStream.