Travis Pastrana calls Daytona 500 try an ‘alternative of a lifetime’

Travis Pastrana, extra recognized for his unimaginable escapades on two wheels however who has an in depth résumé on 4 wheels as effectively, offers a curious look when individuals surprise why the 39-year-old would wish to attempt to race within the Daytona 500.

Certain, Pastrana is understood for his thrill-seeking stunts. However hasn’t he completed sufficient?

“Why not?” Pastrana mentioned about individuals questioning if he ought to danger it together with his restricted NASCAR expertise. “Would any red-blooded or redneck American or whatever you want to call it, whatever I am, have the opportunity to do this?

“We have taken years of success and different types of racing, introduced all of it collectively and can attempt to put our greatest foot ahead.”

Pastrana will attempt to make one of the biggest four-wheel sporting events next month when he will drive a third car for 23XI Racing in attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500. Without a guaranteed spot, Pastrana will vie for one of the four non-guaranteed (“open”) spots available in the 40-car field.

Travis Pastrana on his Daytona 500 bid and his fans’ excitement

Travis Pastrana on his Daytona 500 bid and his fans' excitement

Travis Pastrana on the joy of his followers for his Daytona 500 bid and whether or not he’s nervous in any respect.

He may have sponsorship from Black Rifle Espresso for the No. 67 Toyota, which may have NASCAR veteran crew chief Eric Phillips guiding this system for group co-owners Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.

“Travis came to us and obviously with a great opportunity and we were just honored for him to choose us to build up this endeavor and knock off this bucket list item for him,” Hamlin mentioned. “He is been in NASCAR earlier than and has been a NASCAR fan for a very long time.

“For us as a race group, we might wish to get our toes moist and work on our third group and work on the personnel for that. This offers us to do dry runs for that.”

It won’t be easy for Pastrana to make the 500. The open drivers will be split evenly in the two qualifying races Feb. 16 based on single-lap qualifying results Feb. 15. The top-finishing open driver in each qualifying race will earn a spot in the Daytona 500 and then the remaining drivers with the top two speeds from single-lap qualifying will also make the race.

Among the drivers Pastrana will battle for a spot are former Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (Legacy Motor Club), Zane Smith (Front Row Motorsports) and Austin Hill (Beard Motorsports). There could be several other drivers attempting to make the field with Kaulig Racing, The Money Team Racing, Team Hezeberg and NY Racing all considering fielding an open car. Teams have until the first day the garage is open (Feb. 15) to finalize an entry.

Pastrana, who has already been in the Toyota simulator testing for the race, has limited NASCAR experience with 42 Xfinity starts (in 2012-13) and five truck starts, with the most recent coming in 2020. If he isn’t one of the fastest cars in single-lap qualifying, he will hope he has some Toyota teammates to help push him in the draft at Daytona to secure a spot in the 500 field.

“It is what racers do, we wish to problem ourselves,” Pastrana said. “And for me, it isn’t about going out and like, ‘I’ll win.’

“Dude, I’ll be stoked if I can qualify. But even if I can’t, to be a part of the great American race, bringing great sponsors with me, you know, getting a great car from the 23XI team and having a shot to just see what it’s like. F— it let’s go.”

Travis Pastrana discusses leaping again in a Truck Sequence race

Travis Pastrana discusses jumping back in a Truck Series race

Travis Pastrana returned for his second Truck Sequence race of 2020 on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway after months of digital racing.

23XI Racing has eyes on enlargement in future seasons and sees the Pastrana alternative as one that can carry vital publicity to the group. It additionally has informed Kurt Busch, who retired from full-time racing due to a concussion suffered final 12 months, that if he will get cleared to race, he might do a partial schedule.

“If Kurt decides that he wants to run races, we have to be prepared for that and we have to be prepared to field a very competitive race car,” Hamlin mentioned. “And so by us doing this with Travis, it allows us as a race team to build that depth.”

And it permits Pastrana to fill a dream.

“This is the great American race. I mean, I think the NASCAR crowd was looking at like, ‘How does he get a ride?'” Pastrana mentioned. “It was like, almost like I was taking something from them. Where the two-wheel crowd is like, ‘Man, this is going to be such a cool experience, I’ll watch.’

“Win, lose or draw. It may be thrilling. And for me, it is probably not about what everybody’s saying or considering. It is a chance of a lifetime. … We will have enjoyable and I simply actually, actually hope we will make it and never trigger any points. I consider I am adequate to driver to try this.”

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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