March 1, 2011 in Sports

Bayne makes his way back to Knoxville

Beth Rucker Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – One fan asked Trevor Bayne if he was married. Another wanted to know what his favorite Bible verse is. The Daytona 500 winner grinned as he answered each question and remarked how good it was to be home.

Bayne returned to Knoxville on Monday for the first time since winning the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 for a rally sponsored by the city and Bristol Motor Speedway.

“It still hasn’t hit me all the way yet,” the 20-year-old said of his victory. “This is the first day that I’ve had a couple of hours just to kind of take it in. This is the first time I’ve been home. I haven’t gotten to go back and watch it yet. I think the first time I get to watch the whole race through and see everything that happened, that’s when it’s going to sink in a little bit more.”

He said he’s been wearing his championship ring on his finger every night so that when he wakes up the next morning he’ll know his victory wasn’t a dream. And for the record, no, he’s not married and his favorite Bible verse currently is Ecclesiastes 7:14, one that reminds Bayne that good times and bad times are part of God’s plan.

Bayne’s Daytona 500 victory made him the youngest winner of the race in history, coming a day after his 20th birthday and in just his second start in NASCAR’s elite Sprint Cup Series. His good times at Daytona were quickly followed by a frustrating weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, where he crashed both during qualifying and in Sunday’s race.

A few hundred fans turned out for the Knoxville rally, which was held at the Civic Coliseum. The crowd turned out to be much smaller than expected after severe storms moved through Knoxville on Monday afternoon.

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