Toyota NCS Daytona Quotes — Travis Pastrana

TRAVIS PASTRANA, No. 67 Black Rifle Coffee Toyota Camry TRD, 23XI Racing 

Has anyone on two wheels reached out to you about you running the Daytona 500?

“Every long-lost friend from the moto industry, from action sports, it’s amazing how many skaters and just everyone from X Games and Nitro Circus are really big NASCAR fans or they all love driving or they all like sliding around or at least drifting. Even though rally is where most of us end up or off-road trucks, this is something that everyone as a kid looks up to that this would be really cool to do one day. For me, just got off a couple really good seasons of racing and have a lot more pavement experience than I’ve ever had. Even doing the Gymkhana stuff you know with 130 and 140 mph drifts. I feel like right now I’ve had more seat time than I’ve ever had, and I’ve learned a lot from my teammate Scott Speed and just kind of some pavement driving and out-qualified the world champion on a mostly pavement track. With the rally cars, obviously all-wheel drive is throttle out is more aggressive than here and 140 mph is not 200 mph and it’s not in the draft but looking forward to a good run.”


What does it mean to finally be at this point and be on the verge of qualifying for the Daytona 500?

“You know, it was so cool. Conor (Daly) and I have been talking about the Daytona 500 for years. Obviously, Conor with the fastest time ever recorded at Indy 500, he’s got a little more experience going really fast. It was kind of like off and on and both of us were like off and on. And finally, I got the green light and I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m gonna do it.’ He’s like, that’s so cool. And then he called me just a couple weeks ago and was like, ‘I’m in.’ I wanted to punch him through the phone. Hopefully we won’t be two that are qualified in the same Duel because he is a good friend, but honestly most of the guys out there, it’s been a cool ride and I am friends with most of the guys and they’ve all gone out of their way to really help me do the best we can here and especially Denny (Hamlin) and the 23XI team. Someone asked me what I would be willing to give up to win the Daytona 500 and I said, ‘All my friends that are racing on the track. At the end of the day, my goal is honestly if we can qualify, that would be amazing. This is the first time coming into an event without the expectation of winning. To be a part of this race and the only way I can really mess it up, kind of looking at the way that Chase Elliott and Austin Cindric came into RallyCross this year, they didn’t qualify for the main event, but their presence there added so much to Nitro RallyCross. They got to experience jumping over big gap jumps and sliding 1000 hp cars into corners. The last chance qualifier, that’s usually the time when the crowd goes and gets their drinks or whatever they’re going to do and that was the most exciting and anticipated race of the night. Looking at Jimmie Johnson and Conor and the kids that are also competing against us, I think it’s going to be exciting. Tonight is going to be exciting. The Duels tomorrow night are going to be exciting. I hope to add to the excitement and not the drama.”


Are you concerned not having practice before qualifying tonight?

“I think for everyone not having practice, these are the best drivers in the world and even for me, I’ll find out in that first turn exactly what the balance is like, but it sure would be nice to have more than one turn to figure it out and unfortunately we’re not going to have that luxury.”


Were you able to get on the simulator to practice launches or anything like that?

“So the launches on the sim I’m hoping aren’t accurate and if they are, I’m in big trouble. At the end of the day, I was able to get out and get from first to second gear just in pit practice. Basically, it wasn’t the car I’ll be driving, but it should be similar to the Cup car and similar gearing so looking forward. That was a big reason I went with the 23XI team was access to the Toyota simulator and to have guys like Denny (Hamlin) who is super competitive and Michael Jordan who might be the most competitive human being on the face of the earth that believe that I can help them get a win. Whether that’s Bubba (Wallace) or Tyler (Reddick) or another Toyota or Denny, they’re getting me in the seat not just to get another car in the field but getting me in the seat to give me the best chance I can to help them accomplish their goals.”


Is there more excitement than nerves and why is that?

“For me, it’s definitely nerve-wracking, but I don’t know what to experience. I’ve never had a Cup car out of second gear. So to worry about what it’s going to do in the first turn. I’ve got all the information from all the drivers and they’ve all said similar things, some completely opposite things and I don’t know who’s messing with me and who’s telling me the truth. As a driver, I’m going to figure it out and I believe if anything else, you know it’s good that the Duel isn’t the first race because definitely good to be out on the track by myself and feel what that does without people around me is good. I’ll also be racing in the Truck Series and the goal for that was to get experience drafting away from iRacing as I possibly could. I did qualify front row here and finished top-10 in the Nationwide Series so it’s not like we’re coming in with nothing and I definitely have the most pavement experience I’ve ever had in my life and I feel ready to make it happen.”


Do you get nervous about anything?

“Yeah, it’s buried deep down inside. I think you have to have fear. Fear comes from not being prepared and I’ve done as much homework as I possibly can and I’m not going to let myself worry about stuff that I can’t control. I can’t control that I don’t know what that car is going to do in turn one or that I haven’t driven it. I’ll make the best choice with each moment that I can and try to be as respectable as possible and try to be like Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch and Austin (Cindric) did when they came to my sport and that’s they didn’t take anyone else and they didn’t take unnecessary risk and drove very well and they earned the respect of the community. Most of the NASCAR community doesn’t know that I’m a driver too so we’ll see what happens.”


Have you spoken with 23XI about scenarios if you have to race your way in through the Duels tomorrow night?

“Everything is day to day out here and everything changes. There’s a two-hour meeting tomorrow morning based on where everyone qualifies. Tomorrow we’ll know what everyone’s single car speed was so we’ll also know a little bit more about what we have as a team. If I’m in, I would like to get as much experience as possible, but it comes directly out of my kid’s college fund for any damage that I do this week and I’m excited to not do any damage this week.”


What has the support from the NASCAR community meant to you as you prepare to try to make this race?

“It’s been awesome. Since the time with NASCAR and doing RallyCross, I have raced with a lot of these guys. I know Greg Biffle doesn’t race anymore, but guys like Matt Crafton and (Justin) Allgaier came up to me on my first day and saw I was struggling in practice and was like, ‘try this.’ The technique to where you could put some tape to not jump off the throttle. Every single driver has gone so far out of the way. Even when they say it’s the Good Ole Boy Club, no, it’s the opposite of that where these guys are truly excited to have someone new and assuming that I do my job and everyone is equally as excited to help me because they don’t want me to cause the big one and I appreciate that.”


Do you have a Truck Series schedule for this year?

“Yes, Daytona. At the end of the day, Cody (Efaw) and Al Niece – we came in when they were a new team and brought some sponsorship and got them, not on the map, they would have done that with themselves, but kind of got the eyeballs of Ross Chastain, who is just a super phenomenal human being and an amazing race car driver. As a thank you, Al, being a Marine Corp., Vietnam veteran, thanks to Black Rifle, thanks to you, we are going to give you – bring whatever you can to the table but will cover whatever you can’t cover. That was a huge, huge help because even going up there when all of the other trucks are going to be working on other stuff, I’m going to be coming in for pit practice for the Duels if I need it to qualify in. I can’t thank Al, Cody and Niece Motorsports enough for this opportunity there. Cody has been with me since – we qualified on the pole for Talladega, and second for Kentucky and we’ve had some top-10’s. He was my car chief for Roush and he’s now the crew chief for Niece Motorsports.”