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Daytona 500 winner wants to share faith

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Trevor Bayne raises the trophy after winning the Daytona 500.

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After Trevor Bayne shocked the NASCAR world by winning the Daytona 500, his celebration was decidedly PG-rated. He rode a skateboard and shot hoops with his buddies. In a quiet moment, he wrote himself a note.

According to Mr. Bayne's father, Rocky, it said: "How do I stay grounded in my faith, when I am so high on winning this race?"

Mr. Bayne's note might have been personal, but the religious sentiment it contained is something Mr. Bayne is driven to share. Since rocketing into the spotlight with his big win at Daytona on Sunday, the 20-year-old racer has made it clear that he intends to use success on the track as a platform to talk about his faith.

Recently, Mr. Bayne sat down with his father and business advisers to figure out his long-term goals. While winning was on the list, it wasn't at the top.

"I told them that the goal was not to be the best race car driver or the most marketable or most popular," Mr. Bayne said. "It is none of those things. It is to build a platform and let God use us on the platform that he is building — which might require me to become the best race car driver or be the most marketable or most popular or whatever it is. I just want to stand on the platform that he is putting under me."

And if Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow can talk about faith through football, Rocky Bayne believes his son can do the same in NASCAR.

"I think these young kids today, they need something to look up to, and I think Trevor can be that kid," Rocky Bayne said.

There was a time not too long ago that it was almost a cliche for a NASCAR driver to climb out of his car in victory lane and thank his crew, his sponsor, and God. Given the sport's traditional southern roots, it didn't seem out of the ordinary.

But like so many things in NASCAR, that has changed.

While many races still begin with a religious figure reciting a prayer before the green flag, and veteran driver Morgan Shepherd uses his car to promote his faith, NASCAR's religious overtones have been muted to some extent.

Rocky Bayne, who says his family is Baptist, believes that's a function of image-conscious sponsors getting involved in the sport.

"I think the sport, as a whole, has kind of stifled that out a lot," he said. "I think with corporate sponsors, sometimes, a lot of sponsors don't want to see that."

Trevor Bayne wants to use his story to inspire others.

"My faith is obviously a big part of this and that's really the reason I'm here, and I think that's the reason why all of this worked out," he said.

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