Travis Pastrana seeks new thrills, Jimmie Johnson reclaims old ones at Daytona 500

Travis Pastrana, driver of the #67 Black Rifle Espresso Toyota, (L) and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #84 Carvana Chevrolet, discuss on the grid during qualifying for the Daytona 500. (Getty Visuals)


DAYTONA Beach front, Fla. — Travis Pastrana has jumped out of a plane without a parachute but in no way pushed NASCAR’s prime Cup Collection motor vehicle around 40 mph. He never took the car for so much as a one spin on the superior-banked, high-speed observe at Daytona Global Speedway. And regardless of a preceding dalliance with NASCAR, Pastrana experienced never before tried out to qualify for the Daytona 500.

So as the action sporting activities star found himself standing on the grid, just a automobile apart from excellent close friend and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, it may well have been a wonderful time for Pastrana to talk to for some previous-minute pointers from the two-time Daytona 500 winner.

Johnson has just returned to NASCAR immediately after a two-yr stint in the IndyCar Series and, like Pastrana, the ageing superstars were not guaranteed a spot in Sunday’s time-opening spectacle.

But the duo skipped the modest speak about entry or exit or throttle or velocity. Johnson’s two daughters have been at a close by horse levels of competition Pastrana’s at a cheerleading camp. And that’s what a pair of dads chatted about prior to a single of the most force-packed times in equally their NASCAR lives.

Pastrana viewed Johnson, building pick out starts this season, try his lap on the movie board. It was a rough and bumpy experience with his new Legacy Motor Club team that alarmed Johnson, who just after two many years absent has no idea what the Subsequent Gen automobile is intended to really feel like.

“You are a qualified male!” Pastrana gushed to Johnson after the session.

When it was Pastrana’s flip to qualify in a Toyota from 23XI Racing, his journey was a great deal smoother and, like Johnson, quick adequate for the duo to claim two of the four open places in the 40-driver Daytona 500 discipline.

Just like that, a Daytona 500 champ and an X Video games champ will be racing for just one of the most significant prizes in NASCAR.

There were being 6 motorists vying for the spots, with Johnson and Pastrana earning the two awarded by time trials. The other four were established for a pair of Thursday night time qualifying races that finalize the area.

“Sure, I want to earn. I get in a car or truck, that’s the standard thing, that’s what I want to do,” Johnson mentioned. “But this is extra about the prolonged game. This is additional about remaining a portion of a rising race group than it is really about that intense competitive facet that I have always operated by.”

Pastrana, who at just about 40 experienced turned his attention to landing a Dayonta 500 slot, erupted in celebration following his qualifying lap. He was approached by Kurt Busch, the previous Cup champion, Daytona 500 winner and recent 23XI/Toyota coach who was compelled to retire final season following suffering a concussion in July that is however not healed.

Busch made available a dose of truth for Pastrana: “Kurt Busch arrived correct up to me at the finish and claimed, ‘OK, now we get to do the job.'”

Pastrana’s definition of work could not in good shape the usual vernacular inside of NASCAR.

This is the identical hell raiser who has YouTube movies with 1 million views dedicated to his most gnarly crashes. So obtaining powering the wheel of arguably the safest automobile in NASCAR historical past might not essentially present the exact challenge of, say, a daredevil backflip into the Grand Canyon.

Pastrana, nevertheless, was expected to win all individuals gold medals and make fans keep their breath over every single terrifying trick. Unlike the 47-yr-old Johnson, who thinks he can get Sunday, Pastrana is just satisfied to give the race a attempt. His group, staff co-owned by Michael Jordan, experienced the ability to enter Pastrana and Toyota experienced a fast-sufficient engine to get him into his dream race.

“If I can get this car or truck on the lead lap to the finish line, I never ever reported that prior to about nearly anything but profitable, but that will be a win,” Pastrana said.

It may possibly be fitting if Pastrana can stick about for the end and in some way observe Johnson earn a 3rd Daytona 500. Pastrana went on a person of his to start with dates with his wife at the NASCAR keep track of in Fontana, California, several several years back to observe Johnson race. Pastrana mentioned he held Johnson up late conversing about a single day producing a operate at his have NASCAR career.

He attempted a NASCAR job a ten years ago and raced the comprehensive Xfinity Collection schedule in 2013 for Roush Fenway Racing. Pastrana did complete 10th at Daytona in 2013 in the next-tier Xfinity race and — whilst the automobiles have advanced and he is still a stock motor vehicle newbie — maybe it delivers a very little slice of possible that probably he could be competitive on Sunday.

That is, if he can just get to the conclude.

“I explained to my spouse, ‘Look, I want to expend extra time house. I want to stage back again a very little little bit. But appropriate now this is the finest probability I have, the greatest results I have experienced in cars to set my finest foot ahead,’” Pastrana explained.


AP Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer contributed to this tale


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