Travis Pastrana was slowly making progress in his second official NASCAR start, racing into the top 20 as friends and family looked on Thursday night at Richmond International Raceway.
But a rookie mistake late in the K&N Series race resulted in contact with the wall, and Pastrana ultimately finished 33rd. The race was won by Darrell Wallace Jr.
Pastrana, the action sports megastar, is beginning his career in NASCAR's lower-tier series in preparation for his Nationwide Series debut in July. He ran a respectable race but crashed late in his first official NASCAR start at Phoenix.
"That's why I'm here – for experience," he said after the Richmond race, walking through the garage. "Any time we can make an improvement, we're doing something in the right direction. I'm definitely disappointed in the finish and where we started from, but halfway through the race our lap times weren't that far off the (leader). I just gotta figure out how to get up there."
Pastrana, who jumped into a Late Model immediately after the K&N Series race to get more experience, said he made the pivotal mistake when he found himself "just kind of fixated on the driver in front of me."
He'd moved up to 18th at the time and was receiving high praise from his spotter and driver coach, Camping World Truck Series veteran Matt Crafton.
"When he went to the wall, I went an inch further and went into it and got the front tire (in the wall)," Pastrana said, somewhat sheepishly.
Pastrana said he struggled more than at Phoenix, which he called part of the learning process. He has discovered there's a lot more to each racetrack than he expected.
"They're all different – every turn of every track," he said. "Even on tracks (where the turns) look identical."
His confidence, though, is slowly improving.
"I definitely feel a lot better leaving this race than I did coming in," he said. "I'm leaving disappointed, but I'm getting some time out there. So that's good."