Travis Pastrana is "really pumped" before 1st Nationwide start
Travis Pastrana, No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry, RAB Racing
Are you eager to make you Nationwide Series debut?
"It's definitely been a really long time coming. We felt like we were fairly prepared last year coming in. Just really was looking forward to getting that first start at Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Raceway) and hurt myself and it's been -- since that race, it's all I've been thinking about is just getting in here and starting the Nationwide and seeing what's going on. The K&N (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) has been great -- been learning a lot. Doing a lot of testing with the Nationwide car now with RAB (Racing with Brack Maggard) in conjunction with all the guys that have been really helping out still through Michael Waltrip (Racing) and Matt Crafton. It has been a long road of, 'Hey, how are you going to do? When are you going to race?,' and I'm like, 'I really don't know.' And you know what, we're going to go out here and I finally get a chance to have some fun tomorrow, so I'm really pumped."
Have you practiced pit stops and is that a concern?
"Yep, definitely. No green flag pit stops. I had a couple of pit stops here and there. It's really cool because my cousin (Greg Powell) was going to be my rear tire carrier and he worked his way up from the bottom at Waltrip (Michael Waltrip Racing). He's been working two years and then when we switched to RAB and its Stewart Haas (Racing) and he was disappointed and he went and did a tryout. And he worked his way up and he was in the last two weeks -- got the spot as my front tire carrier, so it is kind of cool that my cousin will be there in the pits. Everyone's like, 'How's he going to do?' I said, 'Well, he'll probably be closer to the best tire carrier than I am to the best racer,' so we're going to work our way up from wherever we start from and we'll do it as a team. I think the pit stop is going to be something that we'll probably lose time on, but I'd rather lose time -- a couple tenths of a second -- than have to do a stop and go. That's probably what I'm most nervous about in this race is actually the pit stop -- any green flag pit stops, I'll be really nervous."
That's probably what I'm most nervous about in this race is actually the pit stop -- any green flag pit stops, I'll be really nervous.
How did you end up with a mullet for your first race?
"Yeah, probably not the best sponsor move I could have made for the biggest event of my entire life. No, it was pretty funny. I mean look, we're here to race and to do the best we can, but we're also here to have a good time and it was really neat that Jimmie (Johnson) took the time and he was like, 'Hey, let's do something fun,' and I said, 'Alright.' We kind of thought about it and my granddad did an ice dive where he dove through the ice and up on the other side and then my dad did it and I said, 'Well, that's something pretty crazy that I want to get off the bucket list that shouldn't hurt me unless we get lost and that shouldn't still hurt me -- I'll just be frozen under the ice.' We decided that that seemed like the only thing I could really do now and now I have a mullet and I have to keep this mullet until I win something. I'm thinking that to keep my marriage I might have to go to a go-kart track after this weekend, but I'm really looking forward to the K&N race and seeing if I can hopefully get that chopped off at the end of the day today."
What's the story behind your yellow bus?
"It's awesome. I've had that fifth wheel since -- probably eight years, seven years now. It's good. All my friends normally travel around and they always go out to California. That bus has been back and forth across the country. Hubert (Rowland), everyone's favorite redneck on the show ('Nitro Circus') -- he's been driving it around just stopping by places, riding dirt bikes everywhere and he got me a golf kart as a surprise, because all the NASCAR guys seem to have really sweet golf karts. That was his gift to me, so I've got a cool golf kart and I've got most my friends unfortunately are going to be coming -- not unfortunately, but fortunately -- but I have some pretty rowdy friends and all the 'Nitro Circus' crew, so there will be about 100 of them all with mullets here at this weekend's race after they saw the video, so i t will be pretty entertaining."
What do your fans think of your move to NASCAR?
"Completely mixed reaction. Obviously, NASCAR -- for everyone saying, 'Oh, NASCAR needs younger audiences,' and that might be true, but you guys still have -- your demographic is so much bigger than anything that we have in action sports. It's just action sports is just a younger demographic. It was cool -- I was actually at a Subway and a guy came up and was like, 'Hey, my son was always action sports and I've always been trying to get him to watch NASCAR and now we something we can do together,' which is, for me, that goes a long way. That's a pretty neat thing. It's not I wouldn't say a matter of fans not liking NASCAR. It's a matter of fans not understanding NASCAR. When it started back when David Pearson and even (Dale) Earnhardt and whatever, it was just rowdy. These guys they were racing. They were wild. They were whatever. It's become much more of a -- as it needs to be with money and sponsors and everything that comes in -- it doesn't get that 16-year-old going 'I'm going to go peel the tires and cause some havoc and go fast.' It doesn't have that same imagine anymore, but it's still at the core of it racing. It's still fast. It's still fun. It's still exciting."
Why do you think younger people haven't been attracted to NASCAR?
"Action sports are great and even motocross your whole following -- almost every single person from three-years-old on up to 50 -- has gone to a motocross track that's a fan of motocross and they've ridden. Everyone has jumped on a skateboard. People can't really relate to what it's like to slide around a corner three-wide at 200 miles-an-hour. Having said that, I've got so much -- I've probably never been ridiculed more from an industry to come to NASCAR, which is ironic. All those guys are coming -- I brought 10 buddies to Daytona who gave me flak all the way down. And that first car came by on that first green flag lap -- every single one of those guys was hooked. Every single one of those guys is going to be here. Every one of those guys will be at Dover and they're bringing more people. I think it's just a matter of just coming out and experiencing it and experiencing it with someone that knows it. I mean if you're sitting in the stands, you don't really understand. But, if you get your headset on with whatever you have someone to relate to -- even if it's Danica Patrick or if it's Ricky Carmichael, unfortunately now he has some sponsorship or whatever, trying to get back -- I think it's easier for someone to come in that can relate to something. For me, this is the most competitive sport in the world. All these guys are competitive. They don't give it the benefit of the doubt because they just see it on TV, they don't understand it. For me, my goal is to do well because it doesn't matter how big a fan base you have. If you suck, nobody is going to follow you after a while. My goal is to not necessarily to work on the press side of it, but to work on my driving side of it."
Is your biggest challenge proving you belong in NASCAR?
"Without a doubt. As a racer, I've always felt like a racer. I know I've gone to 'Nitro Circus' and done X-Games and everything, which is a show and you have to be able to have fun with it, but I figured you know what, I'm going to go out, I'm going to try my hardest and there's going to be a lot of people that understand what you're doing and there's going to be a lot of people who don't. There's going to be people that don't like stuff you do or really like stuff you do. For me, obviously the mullet and everything it looks like fun and games on the outside, but everyone that has ever been to the top of any sport knows how much work it takes to get there and I'm willing to put in that work and it's not going to be overnight. I realize that everyone is like, 'How are you doing? Are you going to check first or last? You going to try and win?' I'm like, 'Look, everyone out there is going to try to win. I'm going to try as hard as anyone else.' And every driver has that belief that they can do it, but a goal for me for this first race -- a goal that it would be very, very difficult for me to reach -- would be to stay on the lead lap and that's where we're coming in. That's where we're starting and saying, 'Okay, even if we don't, that's the goal for the next weekend.' I've got to make every single lap of these races. I've got to get as much experience as I can. I'm going to be picked on or made fun or I'm sure I'm going to crash some people and I'm going to be a lot of the stories or topics and then everything is going to fade away and it's up to me at that point to find the sponsorship. And I think we've got great people around us to keep coming back to these races even after people don't care and I'm going to figure out how to get to the top of this sport and that's where I want to go."
Does your background racing on dirt help with your transition to NASCAR?
"It's helped a lot in that we actually haven't -- they said, 'A second with the radial tires when you get sideways, you're done,' and I have had some full corner drifts and been able to save it and I'm okay. I think for me my biggest challenge, like you said -- even in supermoto, even on motorcycles -- everything to figure out how to do pavement has been different. And you know what, it is a huge challenge and do I know a lot about pavement? Heck no. On the rally races that were the pavement races, I always did a lot worse. We always felt like the looser the gravel, the more sideways the car was, the more out of control -- if they raced in the rain, I'd be tickled to death right now, but that's not what it is and this is what I signed up for. Everyone's like, 'Oh, if it was like this than you'd do better,' and I'm like, 'Right, but guess what? It's like this and this is the way we're going to try and go out and we're going to try to do the best we can and we're going to learn it'."
Will you be extra cautious in tonight's NKNPSE race to ensure you make your Nationwide debut?
"Man, if you're out there racing, no excuses. Anybody that says, 'Oh, I can't do that because I have a job on Monday' -- I do understand that a lot more now than I did before I hurt myself at X-Games -- if you sign up, if you go out there than you're committed. Definitely going to go out and do the best we can and I'm hoping to win that thing. We felt really good in practice -- eighth quickest on the first practice and the car was good on the long runs -- and if I could cut my mullet by the end of tonight, I would be happiest person in the world. So, yeah, I'm going like hell in that K&N race."
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