With big names in NASCAR and other motorsport disciplines fighting for limited Daytona 500 starting opportunities, racers knew 2 of the 4 slots would be filled via single-car qualifying times Wednesday. 7-time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson was the first to punch his ticket, followed by motorsports phenom Travis Pastrana.
What You Need to Know:
- The Daytona 500 is the most coveted starting grid in NASCAR with just 40 spots available and 36 of them are guaranteed to the charter teams.
- Jimmie Johnson, despite his illustrious career, was not guaranteed a start in the 500. In single-car qualifying, he and Travis Pastrana drove fast enough to lock themselves on the grid with the duels left to go for the remaining 2 open opportunities.
- Most motorsports fans wanted to see the biggest names make the field and 2 of the biggest did just that Wednesday night.
Jimmie Johnson has a feel for stock cars, but after 2 years in INDYCAR, he thought he was going to have to race his way in to the 500. The timing proved otherwise.
Pastrana says he put all of his motorsports earnings on the line to race in the Great American Race. Now that he is in the show, he’ll look to take care of his ride in the duels.
With a touch of relief for both drivers, they shared a moment of elation over making it to Sunday – an iconic moment for American motorsports.
In the Stands
All sorts of fans embraced the moment along with the drivers.
The gravity of the moment may not be fully realized until Sunday for Austin.
The moment didn’t pass by Alan Branch though.
In just day 1 of the on-track action at Daytona, fans have a memory and an image to last a lifetime.
From the Pressbox
Fox captured the event on screen.
With 2 more opportunities on the line, the 2023 Daytona 500 is starting off with a very popular storyline.