An exciting Daytona 500 got a Cinderella ending: Trevor Bayne, a 20-year-old without a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride, became the youngest ever driver to win the Daytona 500 with some gutty defense on the final laps.
Bayne held off Carl Edwards on the last lap to take the checkered flag in NASCAR's premier race.
Bayne, at 20 years, one day old — his birthday was Saturday — becomes the youngest ever winner of the Daytona 500, supplanting Jeff Gordon, who won at age 25 in 1997.
After a crash-filled race, the final 15 laps were relatively clean, with 10 to 12 cars up front jockeying for position in two-car drafting pairs. A wreck by sometime SB Nation writer Regan Smith brought out the 15th caution flag of the day, and eliminated both him and Denny Hamlin from checkered flag contention. During the caution, a pit stop to fix a flat tire helped knock Dale Earnhardt Jr. back to the pack;
In the resulting first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, David Ragan led, with Trevor Bayne second, but Ragan was black flagged for changing lanes before the white flag. And then a solo push by Tony Stewart helped set off a chain of events that sent Robby Gordon to the apron and produced a wreck that collected Ryan Newman, Earnhardt Jr., and Martin Truex Jr. — that was the day's 16th caution.
Bayne, at 20 years, one day old, becomes the youngest ever winner of the Daytona 500. He would have replaced Jeff Gordon, who won at age 25 in 1997.