"The goal, this is going to sound weird, but it's not to be the best racecar driver, the most marketable, the most popular," Bayne said in a teleconference two days after his Feb. 20 Daytona win. "But it's to build a platform and let God use us on the platform that He's building, which might require me to become the best racecar driver or be the most marketable or most popular, whatever it is.
"I just want to stand on the platform He's putting under me," Bayne continued. "... If that's our goal, our highs and lows are going to be a lot more manageable."
The 20-year-old Bayne wrote his name in the record books by becoming the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500. The race was only Bayne's second Sprint Cup competition. However, he couldn't duplicate his Daytona success in the first race after his victory, crashing on the 50th lap of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway Feb. 27 and finishing 40th overall.
A Feb. 21 Baptist Press story about Bayne also set some records -- with more than 1,000 people "liking" the story on Facebook -- the highest total ever for a BP story. Fans of Baptist Press on Facebook were quick to celebrate Bayne's accomplishment.
"Awesome!" Edward C. Tracey wrote on the BP Facebook page. "Let's see if this young man can stay faithful through his success. God bless his witness."
"I'm not a NASCAR fan," Darrell Bernard Harrison wrote, "but this dude rocks!"
In his Feb. 20 teleconference with the media, Bayne responded to a question asking what encouragement he would give to people who are low on hope. It's a question to which Bayne can relate, since he went through his own trials a few months ago when he was dropped from Michael Waltrip Racing.
"There were times when I was down," Bayne said. "There was a six-month period when I was out of a racecar and I thought it was going to be the most crucial year of my career. I thought that my 17- and 18-year-old years were going to be very, very crucial, and they were.
"But God had a plan for them all," he continued. "When everything was falling apart last year, I didn't know what was happening. Had I not just followed His path, there's no way I'd be sitting here today as the Daytona 500 champion now."
Bayne said his pre-race prayer was that whatever the outcome, he would grow closer to God through the experience.
"I'm not going to say I have a bad day and things go wrong, because they do," Bayne said. "But there's something greater to it if we're just faithful."
One teleconference question was about the instant celebrity status thrust upon Bayne, and how he would handle life in the limelight.
"It does draw some attention that might be a lot to handle, but I know that God is not going to give me more than I can handle," Bayne replied. "Might be too much for Trevor Bayne to handle, but never too much for Him to handle."
In addition to his teleconference, Bayne has continued to talk about the Lord to the nearly 40,000 followers of his Twitter account:
-- On Feb. 28, he quoted Ecclesiastes 7:14: "When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other!"
-- "We are the CHURCH," Bayne wrote Feb. 25. "Not a brick building. But all of God's children!!"
-- A day earlier, directing his readers to Ezekiel 36:22-23, he said it's "important for us to realize why we are in certain situations" -- not for personal glory but for God's glory.
A native Tennessean, Bayne attends Fairview Baptist Church in Corryton, Tenn., outside Knoxville when he's home visiting his family.
Tim Ellsworth is editor of BP Sports (www.bpsports.net) and director of news and media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
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