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Jimmie Johnson, Travis Pastrana will race in Daytona 500

Photo by Erick Messer/TRE

Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana will be a part of the 40-starter field for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Johnson and Pastrana timed in with 50.202 and 50.208 second lap times respectively Wednesday during qualifying for the Daytona 500. 

The lap times were enough to beat out Zane Smith, Austin Hill, Chandler Smith, and Connor Daly for two of the four open spots.

For Johnson, who hasn’t raced in the Cup Series since 2020, not being locked into the race was stressful.

“It is a huge relief,” said Johnson, who has never failed to qualify for a Cup Series race. “Came down here for my rookie season when the 48 team was just started up. We had to get in through qualifying.

“That was a very stressful moment. So I’ve kind of fallen back on that experience, although it was 20-something years ago now.”

Johnson has raced in 19 Daytona 500’s, winning twice in 2006 and 2013.

Pastrana, who has made starts in the Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series, will make his Cup Series debut Sunday in NASCAR’s biggest race.

Photo by Erick Messer/TRE

“I just can’t say enough about this 23XI team,” Pastrana said. “I mean everyone from Kurt Busch to Denny Hamlin to Bubba (Wallace) and Tyler (Reddick), they all just helped me get there.

“And this TRD motor and being able to get on the sim, that was everything. Can’t give them enough credit for this opportunity.”

The four drivers not locked into the Daytona 500 will have to race for two spots in Thursday’s two BlueGreen Vacations Duels, 150-mile races.


Dominic Aragon View All

I am a co-owner and reporter for

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