23XI Racing is making a big move for the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series race. The team is expanding with a third entry for the Daytona 500.
According to a press release issued on January 17, motorsports icon Travis Pastrana will take over the No. 67 Toyota Camry TRD as he tries to qualify for the Crown Jewel event. He will form a three-car team while working with full-time drivers Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick, and he will have Black Rifle Coffee Company as his primary partner.
“We’re excited to welcome Travis to the team as he competes for a spot in the Daytona 500,” said Steve Lauletta, 23XI Racing president. “He is one of the most well-known and well-decorated action sports athletes of all time, and we’re looking forward to helping him in his quest to race in the Daytona 500.
“Attracting a driver of Travis’ stature speaks volumes to the success 23XI Racing has had in our first two seasons and points to the positive direction in which we are headed. Aside from the opportunity to introduce Travis’ dedicated fanbase to 23XI and NASCAR, this race also provides a chance for more of our team members to expand their responsibilities as we continue to grow and strengthen the team.”
Pastrana Will Make His Cup Series Debut
Pastrana has competed in a variety of motorsports series throughout his career, and he has achieved a considerable amount of success on both two and four-wheel machines.
The Maryland native also has some experience in two of the national NASCAR series. He has made five starts in the Craftsman Truck Series with three separate teams, headlined by a 15th-place finish for ThorSport Racing in 2012.
Pastrana has far more experience in the Xfinity Series. He made nine starts during the 2012 season — eight with RAB Racing and one with Roush Fenway Racing. Pastrana then took on the full 33-race schedule in 2013 while returning to Roush.
He won the pole at Talladega Superspeedway and posted four top-10 finishes. Pastrana’s best finish was ninth place at Richmond Raceway on April 26. Now, he will make his Cup Series debut while trying to secure a spot in the Daytona 500.
Pastrana will have multiple opportunities to prepare for this superspeedway race. Though there currently is no time set aside for Cup Series practice prior to qualifying.
He will take over the entry on Wednesday, February 15, for Busch Light Qualifying. He will then return to the track the following day for the Bluegreen Vacations Duel races. If Pastrana beats out the other open entries, he will finally get to practice on both February 17 and 18.
The Daytona 500 itself will take place on February 19. If Pastrana qualifies, he will join the 40-car field for the Crown Jewel race. FOX will provide coverage at 2:30 p.m. ET.
A Veteran Crew Chief Joins Pastrana
As part of the announcement, 23XI Racing also revealed that Pastrana will have a veteran crew chief joining him for the event. Eric Phillips will return to the pit box and guide the No. 67 team.
Phillips has one Cup Series race on his crew chief resume, but he has extensive experience in both the Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series. He guided such drivers as Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Joe Nemechek, and Ryan Preece to wins.
Most recently, Phillips served as the crew chief for John Hunter Nemechek at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Under his leadership, the No. 4 team celebrated seven wins in two seasons, which took Phillips to 44 Truck Series victories.
Phillips stepped down from the No. 4 pit box after the 2022 Truck Series season. He will now make his return to the Cup Series on a limited basis while working with 23XI Racing and Pastrana.