Limited Cup schedule best for Bayne

Trevor Bayne
Trevor Bayne meets fans the day after winning the Daytona 500.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.


I know there is a lot of talk about whether the Wood Brothers Racing team, fresh off its stunning Daytona 500 win with young Trevor Bayne behind the wheel, will try and run the entire season now. Trust me, after 50-plus years in our sport, these owners understand the business side of it.

Obviously I recognize the strong desire by everyone for Trevor to run the entire NASCAR Sprint Cup season. I am one who actually hopes the group doesn't do that. They have a plan in place and I hope they stick to it. They were gearing up for a 17-race Sprint Cup schedule this year.

I think they need to keep looking at their long-term plan and follow the course that they have plotted with him. Many folks may not know or may have forgotten that Trevor is committed to running for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series title driving for Jack Roush, who also provides support to the Wood Brothers.

Last Sunday’s win in the Daytona 500 was the start of the rest of his life and career. I think winning the Nationwide Series championship to go along with the Daytona 500 winner's mark that now lives forever on his resume will go a long way for him.

I think it is important that we all don’t put too much pressure on the young man to have to grow up any faster than he already has. What Trevor accomplished was truly phenomenal. It shows the potential that Trevor has.

Let’s also understand something though, this is a perfect storm. It was a new pavement at Daytona. It was a new style of racing at Daytona that has never been seen before. Fortunately for him, he was ahead of everyone when the big wrecks happened. His equipment also outlasted others that had engine problems. That young man did exactly what he had to do to beat the competition.

You can’t ignore the fact that the degree of difficulty at some of these other racetracks is going to get tougher. The inherent thing is, once you win the Daytona 500, the expectations are over the top by so many people.

That’s why I hope things don’t spin out of control. I hope they stick to the course they have plotted for him. Simply stick to the game plan they put in place. The boy still has growing pains to go through and they can have a huge impact on him.

Look at what happened to Casey Atwood years ago. He was another young talent that was supposed to skyrocket to the top of the NASCAR ranks. I believe he was pushed too fast and I believe it hurt him. Jamie McMurray is another good illustration of what can happen. To Jamie’s credit, he was given a second chance last year and, boy, did he ever bounce back.

Trevor still has a steep learning curve. I think that’s where running all the Nationwide races and running only 17 Sprint Cup races this year is a great idea. He’s got a great advantage because he knows the No. 21 car has the owners points to guarantee him a spot in the first five races of this year, so he doesn’t have to worry about missing any of those races.

We’ve all seen so many people come into our sport, enjoy some early success and then not be able to sustain it. None of us want to see that happen to Trevor. They just need to bring him along at a steady pace and not let the pressure dictate the wrong moves.

The Ford camp has to be ecstatic as well. Not only did a blue oval driver win the Daytona 500, but as a whole, the Fords flexed their muscle in Daytona. David Ragan in the No. 6 car was strong late in the race and except for a miscue on his part, we might be talking about David as the 2011 Daytona 500 champ. David Gilliland and Carl Edwards really stepped up in their Fords and made it happen when they needed to.

I think everyone can see why all of us were taking exception to Tony Kornheiser’s comments on his show about the  probability of things being rigged to give Dale Earnhardt Jr. the pole for the 10th anniversary of his father’s death at Daytona.

I hope he and all the other conspiracy theorists see how there are no guarantees or absolutes in our sport. That’s why they run the race on Sunday’s. I hate when people who don’t know anything about our sport make these baseless statements like he did.

How ironic was it that 10 years ago, we lost one of the all-time greats of our sport in a last lap crash and 10 years later we have witnessed what might possibly be the birth of a new NASCAR hero?

It sure looks like Trevor Bayne has a long and illustrious career ahead of himself.

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