Jamie Little interviews Travis Pastrana after he officially qualified for 2023 Daytona 500

Travis Pastrana Qualifies for His First Daytona 500: "This Is Literally a Dream Come True"


Even at 39 years old, Travis Pastrana is still taking big risks as a motorsports competitor.

On Wednesday, February 15, the 11-time X-Games gold medalist and Nitro Circus founder officially qualified for the Daytona 500, making him one of the four non-chartered drivers to earn a spot in the 40-car field of the 65th running on the "Great American Race." Driving the No. 67 Toyota for 23XI Racing, which is sponsored by Black Rifle Coffee Company and the Dixxon clothing brand, Pastrana joined Jimmie Johnson as a locked-in contender for this year's inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race.

During the post-qualifying interview with Jamie Little, Pastrana was clearly overcome with emotion after his momentous run.

"Qualifying for the 500, this is literally a dream come true," Pastrana said. "All my friends, my family. This is bigger than big. Thank you so much to Black Rifle/Dixxon for giving me the opportunity to be here. And for Denny (Hamlin) and Michael (Jordan) at the 23XI team for giving me a great car. I was sweating having to go to tomorrow. Now, like Kurt Busch said at the end, he's like, 'now we go to tomorrow. Now we learn. Now the work starts.'"


While Pastrana is clearly excited to make his Cup Series debut, he also called the experience "nerve-wracking" in a later interview. Still, the support he's gotten from everyone at 23XI Racing has seemingly helped to slightly dispel some of his pre-debut jitters.

"I just can't say enough about this 23XI team," Pastrana said. "I mean everyone from Kurt Busch to Denny Hamlin to Bubba (Wallace) and Tyler (Reddick), they all just helped me get there. And this TRD motor and being able to get on the (racing simulator), that was everything. Can't give them enough credit for this opportunity."


Pastrana, who celebrated with Jimmie Johnson on pit road after his qualifying lap, has competed in everything from supercross to motocross to rally racing over the years. He's even run several races in the NASCAR Truck Series. It may seem like he's done it all, but the Annapolis, Maryland native will be checking off yet another box on the resume when he takes the Daytona 500 field on Sunday, February 19.

"I am so very fortunate to be here," Pastrana told NASCAR.com. "This is something that's not about the money. It's not about anything. It's just about trying to be a part of the "Great American Race" and to have an opportunity to qualify with such a great team and to be brought on with so many people around me that are helping me to do the best that I absolutely possibly can. At the end of the day, we're in it to do the best that we can. Damage or no damage, my goal is to obviously not be the cause of any of it and try to do the best we can. But hey, I'm going for it. So we'll see what happens."

Of the six non-chartered entries vying for the four available spots, Jimmie Johnson posted the fastest time in the No. 84 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet. Johnson put up the 23rd-fastest qualifying lap overall, while Pastrana was the 25th-fastest. Zane Smith, Austin Hill, Chandler Smith, and Conor Daly will try to grab the two remaining berths during the Bluegreen Vacations Duel qualifying races on Thursday night.

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