DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After spending most of his life as a daredevil and extreme sports star, Travis Pastrana will settle down as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
No more back flips or high-flying stunts. No more Supercross races or X Games. From now, on he’s content with the simple life of racing a stock car at 190 mph.
“Crazy is a relative term,” Pastrana said as his team worked to get his No. 60 Ford Mustang through inspection Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.
No, crazy is attempting to spin and flip a dirt bike 720 degrees during the X Games in Los Angeles in 2011, and crashing. He suffered a broken ankle and leg attempting a trick called “the toilet paper roll,” and it came two months before he was scheduled to make his NASCAR debut three days later at O’Reilly Raceway Park.
His new car owner, Jack Roush, has issued no restrictions, but he made it clear he expects all of his drivers to be responsible.
“Jack basically said they have the facility here, the crew, the knowledge for you to come over,” Pastrana said. “He said they weren’t going to baby-sit me. He never said I had to be there at 6 a.m. with the fitness guys. I’m not going to tell you to be at pit practice. But I’m going to offer it all to you.
“If you go out and get hurt and all these guys go unemployed, that’s on your shoulders.”
Pastrana will run the entire season for Roush Fenway Racing. The jump from rally cars and motorcycles has been difficult. In fact, it’s the most difficult jump he’s ever attempted.
“NASCAR’s bigger than anything I’ve ever done,” he said.
Pastrana made nine selected Nationwide starts a year ago with a season-best finish of 13th at ORP. Saturday’s Drive4COPD 300 will be his first start at a superspeedway.
“I’m here because I want to be a champion. It won’t be quick, but I want to get there,” he said. “I learn something every time I get in the racecar. But I’ve always liked being thrown into the deep end.”
Pastrana will be against some of the best restrictor-plate drivers in the sport. Sprint Cup drivers Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will attempt to qualify for the 300-mile race, as well as the top-three Nationwide drivers from a year ago – series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler.
Practice for the 300 starts today.
“Nothing can prepare you for a restrictor-plate race,” Pastrana said. “Three and four wide and not being able to see anything in front of the car you are pushing.”
Although Pastrana made a career out of dangerous jumps, he knows NASCAR presents different kinds of challenges. Most important, he said, is not being in control of his surroundings.
“You want to do stuff that’s in a controlled environment, or at least you’re in a controlled environment,” he said. “I’m used to that. This is different. I’m surrounded by a lot of knowledge and I’m ready to learn. This season is going to be a wild ride. Game on.”