With a solid team in Roush Fenway Racing and a full season ahead in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, Travis Pastrana is still embracing the learning curve when it comes to stock car racing.
Unfortunately, Pastrana, behind the wheel of his most colorful No. 60 Roush Fenway Ford Mustang, did not even get a chance to go to school in the Dollar General 200 Advance at Phoenix International Raceway. He was involved in an early crash, relegating him to a 28th place finish.
“They started crashing in front of me,” Pastrana said. “I thought I could get to the inside and I just wanted to try to get down, so once I got in the marbles the first lap and was loose, the second lap came in and I saw them crashing in front of me.”
“I kind of let off, but I just got in the marbles again, so unfortunately, it was a pretty useless day for learning.”
Pastrana qualified in the 12th position for the Nationwide race, with a speed of 131.200 mph and a time of 27.439 seconds. But that was not good enough to sustain him in race conditions, having to utilize his teammate’s set up instead.
“We knew that we had a good qualifying run compared to where we practiced,” Pastrana said. “We thought we were pretty good at the end of practice, but we were so far off from where Trevor (Bayne) was, so we went with Trevor’s stuff just to see if it would work.”
“I think we were on the right track, but there’s not a lot we could pick up because I didn’t get one single lap,” Pastrana continued. “The front wheel was busted out and the splitter was off the right-front tire.”
“We just drove around all day,” Pastrana said. “If you see the front tire, it’s folded over completely, so I don’t know how the car survived.”
“The team earned their money today.”
Although frustrated with the early crash and poor finish, Pastrana did learn at least one tidbit. After following teammate Bayne’s line on the track, he at least picked up some knowledge for the future about where to run for maximum speed.
“I knew where his line was and I knew where my line was,” Pastrana said. “So, just learning where you can run the car was good.”
“But with this car, we never knew because we never had a chance.”
Pastrana’s Phoenix run was especially tough since he had had a great outing at Daytona, finishing in the tenth position. The former extreme sport star turned NASCAR racer felt that he really learned a great deal about restrictor plate racing, again with a little help from teammate and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.
“Daytona was awesome,” Pastrana said “A top-10 finish was exactly what we had hoped for.”
“I knew we had a great car coming into the race,” Pastrana continued. “Trevor pushed me around a few laps.”
“I kind of gained confidence and really just started pushing a little bit and started to be pushed more and those guys gained confidence with me.”
Unfortunately, Pastrana’s confidence was short-lived in the waning laps of the race, with the horrific crash that sent debris raining into the stands as well as all over the track.
“We were running three-wide and I didn’t know what to do,” Pastrana said. “All hell broke loose like it always does.”
“But I still learned a lot.”
Pastrana also broke the news in Phoenix that he will have some learning to do off the track as well, which may involve entirely new skills sets such as diaper changing. He and his wife announced that they are expecting their first child.
“It’s just really exciting,” Pastrana said. “I got married about a year-and-a-half ago and having a kid is going to be awesome.”
Will Pastrana teach his youngster about all of his daredevil ways, including racing in its many forms?
“I definitely feel for my parents now with everything I’ve put them through,” Pastrana said. “But we’ll encourage whatever we have – a boy or girl – to follow their passion.”
“But I’m hoping their passion is golf, maybe.”
As Pastrana leaves Phoenix, now 15th in the point standings, he is no doubt looking forward to more learning at the next venue, Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But he is also anticipating going to another track as well, the Monster Mile, later in the season.
“For me, my hometown track was always Dover,” Pastrana said. “I’ve never gotten to drive anything around Dover and they say it’s like dropping into a roller coaster every corner and jumping coming out.”
“It doesn’t look like a jump when you’re watching,” Pastrana continued. “But all the drivers say it is.”
“I’m looking forward to that.”