Travis Pastrana had one of his strongest runs in the Nationwide Series yet on Friday night, despite not getting the finish he probably could have received if not for the rain.
He started on the outside pole and ran sixth for the first half of the event before a tight condition in the center of the corners started to drop him down the running order. He came down pit road during the penultimate caution from 13th, assuming they didn't have a lot to lose but then the rain came.
He was trapped in 15th and never got the chance to regain the track position he had lost in the closing stages.
"It was great to finally find the speed of the top drivers through practice," Pastrana said after the race. "That was by far the best qualifying effort I've ever had on a 1.5-mile track. We were a little conservative with the changes because we anticipated the track getting looser as the night progressed. We learned a lot for next time. It was an extremely disappointing race, but we learned a lot and it gave me some confidence for future 1.5-mile tracks."
Pastrana knew the learning curve would be steep when he decided to move to NASCAR full-time but there are clear signs of progression. He's starting to qualify closer to the top-10 each week and consistently staying there during the course of the race.
The momentum could easily continue through next weekend as well with the Nationwide Series set to return to Daytona International Speedway.
Pastrana qualified fourth during Speedweeks and finished 10th and he's been a quick learner when it comes to the tandem draft, also having a strong run at Talladega before getting wiped out in one of the many accidents at the end of the race.
He was also the pole-sitter at the Alabama Superspeedway.
With a little luck, Pastrana could be the next surprise winner on a restrictor plate.