Travis Pastrana Crashes In Daytona 500 Overtime, Finishes 11th
Travis Pastrana entered his first-ever Daytona 500 with a few questions to answer. As an "open" entrant, he needed to qualify for one of just four spots in the field to even make the race. Once he did, he had to prove that his season of Xfinity Series racing a decade ago was enough to prepare him for his Cup Series debut on stock car racing's biggest stage. Pastrana accomplished both, then kept his car in the draft long enough to do even more.
Pastrana locked himself into the race in single-car qualifying on Wednesday, freeing him to use Thursday's Duel qualifying races as practice in the draft ahead of Sunday. In both those duels and the early portion of Sunday's race, he stayed calm and held patiently near the back of the drafting pack. He led a single lap during a cycle of early pit stops under green, but his general goal seemed to be survival.
It worked. When the race was extended to a first overtime after a single-car crash with 4 laps to go, Pastrana was still on the lead lap. When a multi-car crash wiped out half the remaining cars and led to a second overtime, Pastrana was set to re-start 11th and had a chance to move up to the front with teammate Bubba Wallace.
Take a look at what happened to bring out the yellow flag at the end of the #DAYTONA500. @StenhouseJr is the winner! pic.twitter.com/c4Fkagwcfn
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 20, 2023
Pastrana moved through the draft in a battle for a spot in the top ten over the next lap and a half, but an errant bump draft from Aric Almirola led him to crash downward into the pack and ended his race with a crash. Pastrana would not finish the final lap, but he would be scored in 11th of 40 cars.
Even with the crash at the end, Pastrana's Daytona 500 was an overwhelming success. In a race where the field's most experienced drivers are regularly taken out of the race by pack-sweeping wrecks, Pastrana stayed out of trouble long enough to factor into the battle for the win. He was fighting for positions slightly further back, but he successfully pushed teammate Bubba Wallace into the very center of the fight at the front and held his own among the other leaders in the day's final pack. If Pastrana wants to run in a NASCAR drafting race again, he has proven that he is more than qualified.
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