Before Travis Pastrana makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut, he will put his limited stock car racing skills to the test against the top drivers from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
Pastrana-Waltrip Racing's Travis Pastrana
Michael Waltrip, Boost Mobile and Red Bull Sponsored No. 99 Toyota
Pastrana, the X Games, rally car and freestyle motocross champion, will race in the NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale Jan. 28-29. Race winners from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and East earned automatic starting spots in the race. In addition to the K&N Pro Series regulars, NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Steve Wallace, former Champ Car driver Andrew Ranger and NASCAR Mexico Series champion German Quiroga are entered in the Showdown.
Pastrana said he has a simple strategy for his first venture into NASCAR.
"Hopefully qualify and keep it out of the wall. I think would be a great plan for the first round," said Pastrana, who will be driving the No. 99 Toyota for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing.
Unveiling of Pastrana-Waltrip Racing's No. 99 Toyota
He won't be making his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut until July in Indianapolis. Until then, Pastrana said he will be performing in his Nitro Circus show in Australia and New Zealand and preparing for X Games in Los Angeles. Coincidently, the X Games in L.A. are on the same weekend as the Indianapolis Nationwide Series race. He added that he wants to squeeze in some stock car seat time between now and the Nationwide Series race in Indianapolis.
"I'd definitely love to, but it's just a matter of trying to figure out how much time we have to do whatever," said Pastrana, the 27-year-old driver from Annapolis, Maryland. "It's going to be a big learning process. I'm going to drive as many places as possible."
Pastrana is teaming with two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip in his NASCAR efforts. Waltrip will also be the grand marshal of the Toyota All Star Showdown. Pastrana said working with Waltrip has been a unique experience.
"Michael Waltrip is the most low-key, but funny guy you'd ever meet," Pastrana said. "He's probably the best - I wouldn't say coach - but the best mentor that I could ever really have. I'm just really excited to be able to work with him. He thinks outside the box and likes to have fun. But at the same time, it's all about performance."
Pastrana has been able to pick Waltrip's brain about stock car racing. Waltrip has been able to instill one important piece of wisdom in Pastrana.
"I think the biggest piece of advice, right after my first test, had some pretty good times," Pastrana said. "I was like man, I feel pretty good. He goes, 'Yep, you can drive, but so can all the other 40 drivers on that track. Good luck to ya. Have fun, be patient.' He says it's going to take time."
Making the switch from freestyle motocross and rally cars is going to be an adjustment. He's not only learning new equipment and cars, but drivers and driving styles. He admits his knowledge of the K&N Pro Series drivers is limited, but he is learning as much as he can by watching races.
"I don't know too much about the K&N Series," Pastrana said. "I've been kind of following it this past year, trying to do a little research on who's who and how the races finished. I definitely watched the Irwindale race from last year a countless number of times now. I definitely expect them to be quite a bit better, more experienced than I am. Just got to get out there and try to qualify, hopefully not qualify dead last, and go from there."
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