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Travis Pastrana, Riley Herbst have chance at NASCAR history

Photo by Feliz Vigil/TRE

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — If Travis Pastrana or Riley Herbst finds Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 Sunday, either driver would become the seventh driver in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series to win in their debut.

The two drivers will each make their NASCAR Cup Series debut, looking to become the first drivers to win in their first start in nearly 60 years.

Herbst is a veteran of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, running full-time in the series since 2020.

“I’m nervous, but I think that just comes with the Daytona 500,” Herbst said. “This is the biggest race in North America. This is what every kid dreams of racing, so I’m excited. Obviously, there are some nerves, but more excitement.”

Herbst crashed in his Duel race and will start the race in 38th.

Photo by Erick Messer/TRE

Pastrana has raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series, most recently competing in Friday night’s Truck Series race at Daytona.

“Learned a lot actually and we have a great car,” Pastrana said after the Bluegreen Vacations Duels about his Cup Series car.

Pastrana, who timed in the race during qualifying Wednesday, will start 40th.

Six drivers have won in their Cup Series debut, according to statistics across two racing databases.

The feat was accomplished five times across NASCAR’s first three seasons; twice in 1949 and 1950, and once in 1951. 

The last driver to record a victory in their debut was Johnny Rutherford in February of 1963, winning in a Daytona 500 qualifier race.

The last drivers to make their premier series debuts in the Daytona 500 were Christopher Bell and Brennan Poole in 2020, who finished 21st and 16th respectively.

Live television coverage of the Daytona 500 will be on FOX Sunday (Feb. 20) at 2:30 p.m. E.T.


Jim Roper (Charlotte Speedway, 1949)

Jack White (Hamburg Speedway, 1949)

Harold Kite (Beach & Road Course, 1950)

Leon Sales (North Wilkesboro Speedway, 1950)

Marvin Burke (Oakland Stadium, 1951)

Johnny Rutherford (Daytona International Speedway, 1963)


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Dominic Aragon View All

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