By The Associated Press
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. insisted he didn’t believe in fairy tales and happy endings.
Trevor Bayne was too young to know any better.
Bayne, in just his second Sprint Cup Series start, pulled off a stunning victory in his first Daytona 500 on Sunday, becoming the youngest winner in the 53 years of the Great American Race. Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the biggest race of his career, took the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane for the first time since 2001.
As he crossed the line, Bayne screamed into his radio: “Are you kidding me?!”
The victory for NASCAR pioneers Leonard and Glen Wood ended a 10-year-losing streak, and came the week of the 10th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s fatal accident on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
It had everyone almost certain Sunday’s win would go to Earnhardt Jr., the prodigal son, who shied away from the suggestion that the stars were lined up for a spectacular tribute to his father.
Bayne, whose official web site says “Coming Soon,” never even allowed himself to daydream about such a magical finish.
“Our first 500, are you kidding me?” said Bayne, who needed directions to Victory Lane. “Wow. This is unbelievable.”