Ebullient and exhausted: Pastrana on first and only Daytona 500

Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images

Ebullient and exhausted: Pastrana on first and only Daytona 500


Ebullient and exhausted: Pastrana on first and only Daytona 500


Travis Pastrana is one-and-done with the Daytona 500 but admitted he exceeded all expectations and left NASCAR’s biggest race just shy of a result in the first part of the leaderboard.

Although he was caught up in the final multi-car crash in double overtime, Pastrana was credited with an 11th-place result. He was running in the main pack when Aric Almirola tagged him going into Turn 1, which sent his 23XI Racing Toyota spinning to the left, collecting Kyle Larson.

“This exceeded all of my expectations as far as results,” Pastrana said. “These are the best drivers in the world. I’m not a great rear-wheel driver. I’m not a great pavement driver. (Superspeedway) racing is a little different.

“We had a great team with this 23XI Toyota team, and it was an honor to be on the track with these guys. It was amazing that we were able to put it in the top 20. I’m proud of everyone involved and so thankful to be here.”

Pastrana even led a lap Sunday during the first stage — lap 39 during a round of green-flag pit stops.

“I led a lap!” Pastrana shouted. “But it was by mistake. They said, ‘Come in, no, stay out.’ I’m like, ‘I’m already out.’ I led a lap at the Daytona 500 and finished top 20. The car is not a complete write-off, so the kid’s college fund is intact. It was a win and it was awesome.”

Daytona was Pastrana’s first NASCAR Cup Series start and he was running ninth when the crash in Turns 1 and 2 broke out.

“It’s funny, I know how to drive a car, so just drive,” Pastrana said of his mindset going into the final overtime restart. “No expectations. Let’s see how far we can get up. I really wanted to give my teammate more help, but once he locked on the bumper of whoever was in front of him and I wasn’t on his bumper, I kind of left him.

“So that was disappointing, but still made a pretty good run coming across the white flag. When that top started going, I thought, ‘We might be top-five here.’”

The action sports star and X Games gold medalist earned his spot in the Daytona 500 through his qualifying speed Wednesday night. It was a solid weekend for Pastrana and the No. 67 team, who overcame damage in their Thursday night Bluegreen Vacations Duel race and falling a lap down in the Daytona 500 after being penalized for driving through too many pit stalls.

Pastrana’s excitement was matched by the exhaustion of the experience. He called it one of the greatest, if not the greatest, couple of weeks in his life.

“As excited as I am right now, I might sleep for the next week,” he said. “I am mentally and physically completely drained. Even in the Truck race, my heart rate was 170 in a three-wide pack (and) 182 was my high. That’s just on adrenaline.

“So, anyone that says NASCAR is boring — they’re full of crap. They’ve definitely never been in a car because this was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”