Enter a kid who was 10 and racing go-karts when Earnhardt Sr. died, who is a native of good ol' boy Knoxville, Tennessee., who is a devout Christian and who is nicknamed "T-Bayne," a spin-off from the popular, auto-tuning hip-hop star T-Pain.

He's also the kid with the $1.4 million check and the title that many believed the racing gods would bestow on Earnhardt Sr.'s son, Junior. But after starting at the back of the pack due to a crash in practice and rallying to lead nine laps, Dale Jr. was undone by first a flat tire and then a crash in the frustrating final five laps.

"It was a very emotional week, a very draining race," said Junior, touched by a Daytona tribute of silence for his father when the fans and public address announcer went silent and raised three fingers on the race's third lap. "I know I would've liked to have seen it all turn out differently and I think a lot of fans felt the same way, but that's racing. Never know what's going to happen, do you?"

Twentysomething Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne: living the dream.
Zuma Press
Twentysomething Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne: living the dream.

Only thing for sure is that Bayne will no longer be an unknown rookie when NASCAR arrives at Texas Motor Speedway for the April 9 Samsung/Mobil 500. He'll be a Daytona 500 winner with a youthful following in a sport entrenched in tradition. NASCAR may not have its next Earnhardt Sr., but it does have its next big thing.

"I still don't think it's real," said Bayne, who now owns more Daytonas than Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Kurt Busch combined. "Sorry if I'm bouncing around on questions and answers. Figure I can do whatever I want to, since it's just a dream anyway."

How strange is NASCAR these days without Dale Earnhardt Sr.?

The last six years there have been six different champions. And the latest Daytona 500 champion won a race born out of bootlegging despite not being old enough to buy a beer.

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7 comments
Lili Lin
Lili Lin

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TheMapman
TheMapman

And Carl Edwards has never won a Cup race at Daytona.

TheMapman
TheMapman

Bayne ran at TMS in October, not May. Also, Bobby Labonte pushed him at the end of the race, not Terry.

anonymous
anonymous

Funny...A white DPD Cop beats a black man, gets arrested and it is not in your paper?

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Roadwarrior2011
Roadwarrior2011

Gossage , you dick !! What does it matter if he was a country boy that didnt finish high school?Why not say he was the best all-around person you ever want to meet?

 
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