Know what I really like about Trevor Bayne?
It's the choices he makes.
He chose to push when it was time to push, to lead when it was time to lead and to block when it was time to block in the Daytona 500.
He chose to celebrate his out-of-nowhere victory Sunday by being true to himself, shooting baskets and riding skateboards with his buddies. This is the same kid who, before any of this happened, had already sat down with his family and advisers to define his goals as a racer and as a person.
Bayne has chosen to soak up every mind-boggling second of attention and adulation and to appreciate it with open eyes and a million-watt smile. Fatigue will hit him hard and soon enough, but these opportunities are fleeting.
And Bayne has chosen to continue to race for the Nationwide Series championship rather than get swept up in the Week 1 hype.
That's not very exciting, I know. A fairy-tale ending to Bayne's dream season would be a Sprint Cup title. He will wake up soon enough, though.
As huge an upset as it was for a driver with one previous Cup start and a down-on-its luck team to win the Daytona 500, imagine asking for that every week. The Nationwide Series will bring solid competition and the experience of championship pressure.
Bayne is 20, with more career in his windshield than life in his mirrors.
Assuming he's as talented as he appears, Bayne will have dozens of opportunities to compete for Cup championships and race wins. As long as he keeps making smart choices.
A little help
The feel-good story of last week continued as Brian Keselowski 's aged, unsponsored car headed west.
In a strange convergence of 2010s technology and the old-fashioned idea of helping a stranger, Keselowski's low-bucks NASCAR operation solicited transporter drivers via Facebook. With their aid and a $273,663 Daytona 500 payday, he was on his way to Phoenix to attempt to qualify for a second Sprint Cup race.
Keselowski became a surprise starter in the Daytona 500 after his younger brother, Brad, gave him a push in a qualifying race.
A new order
This weekend will be the first in which NASCAR sets its qualifying order in inverse order of practice speeds with the idea of building drama toward the battle for the pole.
Also, if qualifying is canceled because of bad weather, the lineup will be set based on practice speeds. That's not ordinarily a problem, though, in Phoenix.
Racing with purpose
The 15 Funny Car championships (and counting) will certainly be a big part of John Force 's legacy, but to him they're not the most important.
He'd like that to be the initiative undertaken by his team and Ford to make cars safer after the loss of one of his drivers, Eric Medlen, in 2007. Advances allowed Force to survive his worst crash later that season, he says, and to win another title last year at age 61.
"When we lost Eric, when we woke up, nobody wanted to race," Force said as he prepared for the season opener this weekend in Pomona, Calif. "The trophies didn't have a meaning.
"What do you do? Go back and work hard so you can have money so you can have a nice house? Go back to it so you can have money to send your kids off to college? Go back so you can win championships without Eric? It didn't make sense. It was the safety that came out of it that made sense."
The $5 million bonus offered by IndyCar for an outsider winning its Las Vegas finale is nice -- something to talk about, maybe -- but I'd bet a $100 of my own dollars that it will go uncollected.
The people in the series regularly have a hard time beating the usual suspects, so it's hard to imagine an interloper going wheel-to-wheel with Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16 and getting the best of them.
The deal also does have a negative aspect. Let's say I'm wrong, and there is a viable candidate with a solid shot to win. Won't that distract from the championship?
The thought counts
Thirty-four fans who lost their Super Bowl seats in a snafu at Cowboys Stadium accepted Las Vegas Motor Speedway's offer of free tickets for the March 3-6 NASCAR weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Not all of them will go, though, after all.
A New Berlin man has since decided to pass, given the cost of the flight. The fans were entered in a drawing, and four were given airfare as well as lodging and the tickets, the track said.
Not for now
Tony Kanaan is still looking for a ride. The deal the 2004 IndyCar Series champion had put together with deFerran Dragon fell apart because of insufficient sponsorship.
Ray Evernham has filed suit in North Carolina against two companies owned by George Gillett Jr., in an attempt to get some $19 million from the sale of his NASCAR team. . . .
Matt Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR champion and 2009 Daytona 500 winner from Cambridge, and his wife, Katie, had a second daughter, Grace Katherine, in the early morning hours Tuesday. Nice timing, given the 500 Sunday and a Phoenix trip for this week. . . .
Elkhart Lake's Road America has been honored by the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce as its large business of the year for making a difference in the community.