Race Weekend Central

Travis Pastrana Snags 11th in 1st Daytona 500: ‘The Kid’s College Fund is Intact’

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Travis Pastrana entered the 2023 Daytona Speedweeks attempting to make his first NASCAR Cup Series start at age 39, a full decade after last running stock cars full-time. He was looking to do it in the sport’s biggest race, driving a new third entry for 23XI Racing that had never been run on track before.

Considering all that, ending the race 11th had to feel like a win for Pastrana.

And it did.

“I led a lap at the Daytona 500 and finished top 20,” Pastrana said afterwards. “The car is not a complete write off, so the kid’s college fund is intact. It was a win and it was awesome.”

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Awesome was not the best description of Pastrana’s first pit stop, though. A penalty for passing through too many pit boxes had him losing the lead draft, putting him a lap down through the first stage and much of the second.

But a smart use of the wave around after stage two got Pastrana back on the lead lap. From there, his No. 67 Toyota handled well in the draft, positioned for a decent finish heading into the final stretch.

That’s when a few lucky breaks went his way, with a wreck in the first overtime leaving Pastrana inside the top 10 heading to what became the final restart. A driver who was hoping to just finish this thing had his competitive instincts kick in; the former X-Games star was hungry for more.

“Let’s see how far we can get up [there],” Pastrana said of his thinking. “I really wanted to give my teammate [Bubba Wallace] 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.”

That’s when things went sideways, as contact between Pastrana and Aric Almirola sparked a last-lap wreck that ended the race under caution.

“My car had been pretty tight even off of [turn] 4,” Pastrana explained. “So, I was super surprised that it got as loose as it did, and we’d been a little loose on the top and we were all the way up on the top. Just disappointing.”

Still, when the smoke cleared, an 11th-place finish was well above Pastrana’s expectations for the event. He wound up the highest-finishing 23XI driver, too, after Wallace and Tyler Reddick got caught up in wrecks of their own.

Does that mean more Cup starts are on the horizon? Sadly, no.

At least, not yet.

“One and done,” Pastrana insisted, despite being so excited after the race he stayed with the media a good 15 minutes to answer questions. “Now, if Cody [Efaw] from Niece Motorsports calls me up and says, ‘Hey, what are you doing this weekend?’ I’ll jump in, but I’m not good enough to be the best at this sport with my skillset.”

For one weekend, though, Pastrana was at least good enough to hang with ’em.

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About the author

Tom Bowles
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The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.

You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.

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kb

Sorry, he is just so annoying. Like he doesn’t have college funds before this? If this is his nest egg, he needs a new financial advisor. IMO.

Brett

Hey KB, chill bro. He’s joking around. The guy is pure talent in every motorsport that he gets into and actually humble to realize he’s not at the other driver’s level in the sport. Not a bad run. KB, here’s a life lesson, don’t be a troll.

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