DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Travis Pastrana won’t come back to run another Daytona 500 or Cup race after finishing 11th and leading a lap Sunday night, saying his memorable race was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“This exceeded all my expectations as far as result,” said Pastrana, the action sports star who finished ahead of six Cup champions and his two 23XI Racing teammates.
“These are the best drivers in the world. I’m not a great rear-wheel driver. I’m not a great pavement driver. … It was an honor to be on the track with these guys. It was amazing that we were able to put it in the top 20. I’m proud of everyone involved and so thankful to be here.”
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Pastrana admitted he was thinking about a possible top-five finish when he was 12th on the final restart.
“I really wanted to give my teammate (Bubba Wallace) more help, but once he locked on the bumper of whoever was in front of him and I wasn’t on his bumper, I kind of left him so that was disappointing, but still made a pretty good run coming across the white flag,” Pastrana said. “When that top started going, I thought, we might be top-five here.”
But then Pastrana was collected in the crash on the final lap.
“It’s tough just because you can’t really see what’s going on in front of you, so when the two cars in front of you connect, they really take off quick, but when you’re pushing them, you’re worried about having happen what happened to me where you kind of spin the guy in front of you,” Pastrana said.
“My car had been pretty tight even off of (Turn) 4, so I was super surprised that it got as loose as it did.”
Pastrana was just as excited with his finish as he was by leading the Daytona 500.
“I led a lap!” Pastrana said. “It was by mistake.”
Pastrana was credited with leading two laps, Laps 39-40, which came during a green-flag pit cycle.
“I should come in,” Pastrana said he told his team before he was told to stay out. “(Then) they’re like ‘Come in.’ I’m already out (past pit entrance). I led a lap in the Daytona 500 and finished the top 20 and the car is not a complete write-off.”
It was just a part of a special week in Daytona that saw Pastrana compete in the Craftsman Truck Series race Friday and then Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“As excited as I am right now, I might sleep for the next week,” Pastrana said. “I am mentally and physically completely drained. Even the Truck race, my heart rate was 170 in a three-wide pack. 182 was my high. That’s just on adrenaline.
“So, anyone that says NASCAR is boring, they’re full of crap. They’ve definitely never been in a car because this was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.”
And that’s from someone who has jumped out of an airplane without a parachute.