Sunday's Daytona 500 was an incredible blend of old and new. Rookie Trevor Bayne somehow stole the show with an amazing and unexpected run, and he did so while driving for Wood Brothers Racing.
Wood Brothers Racing is one of NASCAR's oldest and most legendary teams, but the family-run team has fallen on hard times in recent years. Very hard times, in fact.
With dwindling sponsorship and a lack of recent success, the Wood Brothers cut back to a partial schedule in 2009. The team seemed like it was on life support as of late, with little hope for the future.
But everything seems to have turned around in just one race.
The team took a chance on putting Bayne in its car, which has already paid off more than anyone ever imagined. Prior to that, longtime manufacturer Ford stepped up and gave the Wood Brothers direct support.
And legendary driver David Pearson's approval, the team unveiled a car with a retro No. 21 paint scheme, bringing back memories of what made that number one of NASCAR's greatest.
On a gorgeous afternoon in Daytona, a new driver helped the Wood Brothers bridge the gap to the past.
Here's what we mean:
WOOD BROTHERS RACING DAYTONA 500 VICTORIES
1963 – Tiny Lund
1968 – Cale Yarborough
1972 – A.J. Foyt
1976 – David Pearson
2011 – Trevor Bayne
"I was part of the '76 win with Pearson," co-owner Len Wood said. "(Brother) Eddie was here with Foyt in '72. What's your biggest win? Well, this is the top of the stack right now."
Said Eddie Wood: "When we kind of started downhill, you begin to think you can never get back. But you keep trying. Just the fact that you want one more trophy – one more trophy – you can't quit. And we never quit. We just kept trying."
In the 53rd Daytona 500, Wood Brothers Racing added both a new chapter to its legacy and opened the door to its future.