Travis Pastrana‘s Daytona 500 début will also be a bit of a family affair for him as his #67 23XI Racing Toyota Camry will have his younger cousin Greg Powell on the pit crew as tyre carrier. Powell has also starred alongside Pastrana on the latter’s extreme sports series Nitro Circus.
The two, separated by a year in age, grew up together in Annapolis, Maryland. Nicknamed “Special” Greg, Powell was a BMX rider on Nitro Circus from its inception in 2009 until his departure for NASCAR. In 2011, he landed a backflip dubbed the “Special Flip” that he had created years prior but was rarely able to achieve until doing so as part of a Nitro Circus live show.
A former college football player for the University of Maryland, Powell eventually embarked on a similar route to his fellow athletes into NASCAR when he joined Michael Waltrip Racing as a development pit crewman. He became a tyre carrier on Pastrana’s #99 in what is now the ARCA Menards Series East and West in 2011.
In a 2012 interview with Pittalks, Powell explained, “A couple years ago Trav and I had just finished a workout in his basement gym. We were eating some lunch and he mentioned the idea of racing NASCAR. I could see that he had the serious look going on so I told him I was pumped for him and told him that I’d be great for his pit crew should he need anybody. A couple weeks later he asked me if I was still interested and if I was willing to seriously commit to it. I was all in.”
The following year, while mainly employed by Truck Series team Eddie Sharp Racing as Cale Gale’s tyre carrier, he continued to work with Pastrana in his part-time Xfinity Series schedule for RAB Racing as well as doing his first Daytona 500 with Michael McDowell. Pastrana had a separate crew at now-RFK Racing when he contested the full 2013 Xfinity season; he departed NASCAR afterwards, only returning for sporadic Truck starts over the next decade.
Powell subsequently worked for Richard Childress Racing and technical allies Germain Racing and Our Motorsports. He returned to Toyota in 2022 when he was hired by Joe Gibbs Racing, where he carried tyres for Brandon Jones‘ #19 in the Xfinity Series and Chandler Smith’s Kyle Busch Motorsports #18 in the Truck Series. Smith, who went on to finish third in points before switching to Chevrolet, will compete against Powell and Pastrana for one of the four open spots in the Daytona 500.
“For anyone wondering where he went after we finished filming Nitro Circus on MTV, Greg moved to Charlotte to try and be on my pit crew. But by the time he got the experience needed to be on my crew, I had already been chewed up and spit out of NASCAR,” Pastrana recalled on social media. “Greg stayed committed and went on to be one of the best tire carriers in the sport. Currently he works for Joe Gibbs Racing but we snagged him over to a fellow Toyota team 23XI Racing where for one time only, our master plan of working together in the Great American race is on the brink of reality.”
Regardless of whether Pastrana makes the 500, he and Powell will then become rivals as Pastrana enters Friday’s Craftsman Truck Series race in the #41 Chevrolet for Niece Motorsports while Powell services the #17 TRICON Garage Toyota of Sammy Smith.