Travis Pastrana Officially A NASCAR Driver After Richmond Debut

Action sports star Travis Pastrana will make his debut in NASCAR's Nationwide Series on Friday night in Richmond.

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NASCAR At Richmond: Travis Pastrana Finally Makes Nationwide Series Debut

Action sports superstar Travis Pastrana finally made his long-awaited NASCAR Nationwide Series debut on Friday night, finishing 22nd at Richmond International Raceway.

A pit road speeding penalty thwarted his shot at a top-15 finish, but he ran a respectable race other than that.

Here's what Pastrana and those close to his racing efforts had to say about his first NASCAR start.

Travis Pastrana, driver:

I had three goals when I started. One was finish the race. Two was to finish on the lead lap. So I did the first goal and didn't do the second goal.

My third goal was – I bet Ross Cathy, my friend from Chick-fil-A – that I'd donate some money to charity...if Danica (finished higher). I knew that was a long-shot bet, but we were so close to her at the end.

I had to go through the pit twice (due to a speeding penalty). I got on the gas at the end when I thought
it was the end (of pit road). I was like, 'Yeah!' Then I got out and I was like, 'Ahh, it was the yellow line, not the white one.' I was so stewed – just getting antsy at the pit. That was my first green-flag pit though. It was pretty cool.

Matt Crafton, Pastrana's driving coach and Camping World Truck Series driver:

He's learning every time he comes out. It's just amazing what he learns. I mean, he should have finished 15th to 17th if he didn't have the pit road speeding penalty. This was his second time ever on a radial tire and his seventh time ever in a stock car. So his progress is really amazing to me.

I wouldn't be here wasting my Friday night if I didn't believe in the guy. I didn't know if he was going to be one of those guys just coming in to do it just because he could, but you're never going to find a guy more determined than this guy.

God, he wants it. He calls me and talks to me quite a bit about it, and what to expect and what to learn. That's what makes me want to help him that much more.

Robby Benton, RAB Racing team owner and Pastrana's spotter:

I think the biggest thing we needed to do tonight was compare him relative (to someone with more experience). This being his first race, he exceeded all my expectations. Once we could get into a run and he found a rhythm, he had lap times that were good enough to run solidly in the top 15. He ran the last 10 or 12 laps in front of Kasey Kahne, who finished 10th.

I think he learned a lot tonight. If we could come back tomorrow, push re-do and do it all over again, he'd be much better for it.

Lyn-Z Pastrana, Pastrana's wife:

(Pastrana's mullet) is growing on me, actually. I kind of like it. I'm going to Australia on tour (she's a professional skateboarder) for three weeks, so it has time to grow out while I'm gone. They all thought I would disapprove (of the idea), but when I approved, they were like, 'Oh, shoot. Now he really has to do it.'

I thought he did great (in the race). To me, the best thing he could do was to finish the race and get the first one over with and just learn from it.

If you only saw the group of 40 (friends) in the stands. A bunch of the Maryland friends came out in a Red Bull party bus, and they were in the stands looking very much like Travis with the mullets.

But there are some (friends) like, 'What are you doing in NASCAR? Aren't you bored?' I thought I would be, but after the first race in Irwindale...I got way more into it.

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As Travis Pastrana Prepares For NASCAR Nationwide Debut, Is He In It For Long Haul?

Remember the "Pastranathon?" Or at least what was supposed to be the Pastranathon?

Last July, action sports superstar Travis Pastrana planned to pull double duty by participating in both the X Games in Los Angeles and the NASCAR Nationwide Series in Indianapolis – two deliciously cross-promoted ESPN events that would perhaps move some of Pastrana's young male fans to watch NASCAR for the first times in their lives.

But in an instant, those plans were destroyed. Pastrana's hard crash during the X Games spoiled his planned NASCAR debut, and he was out for the season. Now, nine months later, Pastrana will finally make his first Nationwide start – what he called "the biggest event of my life" – on Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Pastrana has the star power, the right attitude and the tools to succeed in the sport, provided he stays committed to it. So is he really in for the long haul?

"Anyone who has ever been to the top of any sport knows how much work it takes to get there," he said Thursday. "I'm willing to put in that work."

The 28-year-old Maryland native acknowledged any NASCAR success is "not going to be overnight," and in reality will be extremely difficult. His cousin, who will be a member of Pastrana's pit crew, will "be closer to the best tire carrier than I am to the best racer."

Pastrana completely understands he will not be finishing in the top 15 of the Nationwide Series race on Friday night or anytime soon. But with his K&N East Series schedule (he'll race one of those events tonight) giving him a chance to learn and make mistakes, at least he'll continue to get experience.

"A goal for me for this first (Nationwide) race – a goal that would be very, very difficult to reach – would be to stay on the lead lap," he said. "That's where we're coming in and starting. And even if we don't, that'll be our goal coming in for the next weekend. I've got to finish every lap of every race I can."

But the newlywed driver hopes success comes sooner than later – as does his wife, skateboarder Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins. Pastrana let NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson shave his hair into a mullet as part of this must-watch video, and Pastrana is vowing to keep the redneck-style haircut until he wins a race of some kind.

"I'm thinking to keep my marriage, I might have to go to a go-kart track this weekend," he joked.

Pastrana's legion of fans has had a "completely mixed reaction," he said, to his arrival in NASCAR. And the action sports industry he loves has "ridiculed" him for the move.

Pastrana believes that's just because they don't understand NASCAR yet. For example: He brought 10 friends to Daytona in February, and "they gave me flak the whole way down."

But they quickly changed their minds about the sport, though.

"Since that first car came by on that first green-flag lap, every single one of those guys is hooked," he said. "Every single one of those guys is going to be here (at Richmond), and they're bringing more people. It's a matter of just coming out and experiencing it."

He estimates 100 friends and family members will be in attendance at Richmond this weekend – many of them with mullets to salute his NASCAR debut.

The hard part, though, will be keeping fans interested in his progress if he struggles. If he pulls off that feat, it might just be the daredevil's best trick yet.

"I'm going to figure out how to get to the top of this sport, and that's where I want to go," he said. "... It doesn't matter how big of a fan base you have – if you suck, nobody is going to follow you after awhile."

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Travis Pastrana Out For Remainder Of NASCAR Season; Injury Pushes Nationwide Series Debut To 2012

Travis Pastrana will miss the remainder of the 2011 NASCAR season after surgery Wednesday night to repair the broken foot and ankle he sustained in the X Games.

Pastrana is expected to make a full recovery from his injury, but will spend the first month after the surgery with his right foot immobilized in traction. He'll be unable to apply any weight to his leg for another month after that.

As such, Pastrana's Nationwide Series season is over before it started. Pastrana was scheduled to run seven Nationwide races with his debut at Indianapolis. But he crashed at the X Games the night before the race.

"To give my ankle and foot time to heal properly, we have decided to wait until 2012 to make my NASCAR debut," Pastrana said in a statement released by the team. "I probably could have been ready for the final couple of races in 2011, but it just makes more sense to start fresh in 2012.

"We are already starting to talk about testing and what I need to do to prepare for next season. My sincere apologies go out to my NASCAR team, fans and sponsors for this delay. Thanks for all of the support. This will be a fun ride –eventually."

This is purely speculation, but it would make sense for Pastrana to make his Nationwide Series debut at Phoenix International Raceway – the second event of the 2012 season.

Throwing Pastrana to the wolves at Daytona with the two-car draft wouldn't seem to be a recipe for success, even though that's what Danica Patrick did.

Pastrana at least ran the K&N Series race at Phoenix earlier this year, and although the track is being reconfigured, some familiarity might offer a better opportunity for a debut.

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