Photo Credits: @travispastrana on Instagram
Reigning Nitro Rallycross champion Travis Pastrana impressed in his maiden NASCAR Cup series outing last weekend, finishing the season-opening Daytona 500 in 11th place.
Pastrana is no stranger to stock car racing, having contested the full 2013 Xfinity series, as well as nine rounds the year before and six Truck series races between 2012-23 – including Friday's race at Daytona.
Likewise, the Nitro RX+NASCAR relationship goes back some way too, with champions Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, and Austin Cindric all contesting Nitro RX rounds over the last two years, and current Cup champ Joey Logano testing Nitro RX’s FC1-X last year. Former Nitro RX front-runners Scott Speed and Steve Arpin also spent time in NASCAR earlier in their careers..
For Pastrana, despite his four-wheeled background being almost exclusively in rallying and rallycross, racing in the Daytona 500 was a lifelong dream. He prepared for NASCAR’s biggest race by contesting the DIRTcar nationals at Volusia alongside Arpin, where he took a feature race win, before running in the aforementioned Truck series curtain-raiser where he finished 13th.
For the 500 itself, Pastrana locked his 23XI Racing Toyota Camry TRD into the field on speed last Wednesday. He then started at the back of the 40-car grid, but was soon in the thick of the action. Pastrana even led lap 39 as the field cycled through green flag pit stops, but a penalty for a pit violation forced him to fight back once again.
But by the end of the race he was running in the top-10 and was set to climb still until he was caught up in a race-ending crash that took out multiple contenders. Nevertheless, he ended the race 11th.
“[The] team, never gave up, put us 10th on the final green, white, checker restart, right behind both of my teammates with Denny [Hamlin, team owner] and Bubba [Wallace],” Pastrana said afterwards. “I really wish I could have connected a little bit better. That was the position that Denny had really hoped that I'd be in and unfortunately, we were a little loose on the outside, just got a little bump and by the time I started to correct it. We were three wide and I was pretty much in the wall.
“So wasn't the greatest ending to it but an 11th way better than I ever imagined. You got to race at Daytona, 500 got the race speed week.
“This was the greatest experience of my life and I got all my friends and family around, cheers!”
Pastrana’s attention now turns back to Nitro Rallycross where he’ll be looking to end the season on a high as the series returns to Glen Helen Raceway in California for the final two rounds of the season on March 17-19. For more on how to secure your tickets to the series finale, please visit our website here.