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NASCAR

Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne tipped for the top

By Simon Evans

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Twenty-year-old Trevor Bayne, who stunned the NASCAR establishment by becoming the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500, is seen by friends and rivals as having a long and flourishing NASCAR career.

Bayne's victory on Sunday came in just his second top tier Sprint Cup race, bringing success to NASCAR's oldest continuously operating team, the Wood Brothers.

"He's got a tremendous awareness in the car. The great ones are like that. I've listened to a lot of drivers on the radio and he reminds me of the great ones," said joint owner Eddie Wood.

Such was Bayne's outsider status that he will not even be awarded points in the Sprint Cup standings given that he is only entered for a partial season due to a lack of a sponsor.

Carl Edwards, who finished second on Sunday, does not think that Bayne will be without a backer and a full-time ride for long.

"We talked a little in the off-season about what he was going to do," he said. "He was a little nervous about committing to a partial Cup schedule.

"I just said, 'Look man, just go out and run great and you won't be a partial Cup driver.'

"Hopefully corporate America or someone will take notice that this young man will be a great representative for them and he can run the full series. I believe he could be very, very tough, especially as he gets more experience."

Bayne, whose Daytona victory came just one day after his 20th birthday, says he does not yet know if there will be a change to plans for this season.

But he now has prize money of over $1 million to help him along. Throw in his unwavering confidence and the affable Tennessee native is likely to have offers on the horizon.

"I think the world is going to like him a lot," said Edwards, "He is a guy who has a ton of enthusiasm. Seems like he's got it figured out. Seems like he just has massive talent.

"He hasn't done anything dumb, he keeps his composure, he drives like a veteran."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)