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Jan 13, 2023
One of the most iconic names in action motorsport, Travis Pastrana, will be joining the NASCAR Cup Series’ 23XI Racing team for a bid into the 2023 Daytona 500.
The team announced the news of a third Daytona entry on Tuesday morning. Pastrana – a champion in the supercross, motocross and rally racing world as well as an X Games superstar - will drive the No. 67 Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry TRD in an attempt to make his Daytona 500 debut on Feb. 19.
With no guaranteed starting position, Pastrana will need to earn a place on the 40-car Daytona 500 starting grid with a solid showing in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying race at Daytona Thursday, Feb. 16.
"I’m thrilled at the chance to race in the Daytona 500," said Pastrana, the reigning Nitro RallyCross Series champion. "It’s the one event every year that all my friends and family come together to watch at our buddy Dale’s house and it’s an event I’ve wanted to race my entire life.
"Trying to earn one of the very few remaining spots in qualifying for the biggest race I’ve ever had the opportunity to compete in will not be an easy task, but I’m confident the 23XI team will give me a car that belongs in the show and truly believe I have the skills to get in there.”
The 39-year old from Annapolis, Maryland, has competed on the Daytona high banks before with a best finish of 10th in the 2013 Xfinity Series race there - a race Pastrana remembers well. He crossed the line backwards in one of the most dramatic finish Daytona is known for producing. It’s one of four Top-10 finishes he earned in his only fulltime season (2013) in the NASCAR ranks, driving for NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Roush.
Pastrana has 42 career Xfinity Series starts – with a career best finish of ninth at Richmond. He also has five Craftsman Truck Series starts with a best of 12th at Las Vegas in 2012.
"We’re excited to welcome Travis to the team as he competes for a spot in the Daytona 500," 23XI Racing President Steve Lauletta said in announcing the news. "He is one of the most well-known and well-decorated action sports athletes of all time, and we’re looking forward to helping him in his quest to race in the Daytona 500.
"Attracting a driver of Travis’ stature speaks volumes to the success 23XI Racing has had in our first two season and points to the positive direction in which we are headed."
Certainly, the 23XI Racing team – co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR star Denny Hamlin - has had successful times in NASCAR’s grandest race, the Daytona 500. Hamlin – who drives the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing – has won the race three times. Last year, 23XI Racing earned its best finish in the race when driver Bubba Wallace finished runner-up to Penske Racing’s Austin Cindric by a mere .036-seconds in a typically dramatic final lap push for victory.
Daytona has been a good place for the 23XI Racing team, with Wallace finishing runner-up in the summer Daytona race in 2021 as well.
"It was very important for me to put my best foot forward and I’m happy to undertake this endeavor with the 23XI Toyota team," Pastrana said. “They are always competitive at superspeedways, so I know we will be strong when we get to Daytona.
"All my friends, family and long-lost relatives plan to be there and I’m looking forward to sharing the moment with all my fans and my partners at Black Rifle Coffee Company too.’"
The 23XI Racing team will have a distinctive new look in 2023, with driver Tyler Reddick joining the team fulltime in the No. 45 Toyota Camry.
The season begins in three weeks with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum non-points event in Los Angeles on Feb. 5. The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season opens on Feb. 19 with the Daytona 500. There are only four open positions in the 40-car Daytona field with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson among those also vying for an “open” starting spot.
-Photo credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images