Travis Pastrana calls 22nd-place finish in NASCAR debut a "team effort"

Travis Pastrana climbs into the No. 99 Boost Mobile for RAB Racing in conjunction with
Michael Waltrip Racing. Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR 
Not many drivers would be happy finishing in 22nd after a race, but Travis Pastrana was just that after finishing his first race as a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver.

Heading into the race, Pastrana's goal was simple. "My goal is to be on the lead lap at the end of the race. If we can do that and not crash, it would set a lot of confidence for me going into Darlington. If I end up crashing in the first quarter of the race, A, I didn’t learn anything this race and B, all the critics that have been saying I’m going to crash out all the time are going to be right. I really hope I don’t hit a wall, don’t hit anybody else, don’t make anybody upset, and hopefully end up on the lead lap.”

As the race got under way, crew chief Scott Zipadelli said, "Welcome to the Nationwide Series." With that, Zipadelli and spotter/driver-coach Matt Crafton coached Pastrana through the race in a very calm and reassuring manor. Crafton provided Pastrana with insight only another driver could know, and their partnership seems to be a natural fit.

Phrases heard from Crafton to Pastrana:

"get that thing down on the bottom"
"perfect 3 & 4"
"don't arch the corner like that anymore"
"don't abuse those tires"
"easy with your throttle, like you have an egg under your throttle"

When Pastrana asked what position he was running in, Crafton replied, "You can't see the pace car, so it don't matter." To which Pastrana replied, "A very good point."

Another one of Pastrana's pre-race goals was to beat Danica Patrick, another famous crossover star in NASCAR. Pastrana and Patrick were in eyesight of one another all evening long. Passing her at one point, Pastrana said on his radio, "Woo hoo Danica," with excitement. Egged on by his crew chief and Crafton, they both said "go get those girls" as Johanna Long was also running ahead of him at one point.

After developing a vibration just before Lap 100, Pastrana was told by his team, "You're as good as the 10th place car (the No.88 of Cole Whitt)" as he was laying down good lap times.
Credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

Remaining on the lead lap until Lap 185, Crafton told Pastrana as leader Kurt Busch passed him, "Don't panic, you're going to be just fine," reassuring Travis that he could get back on the wheel and get his lap back.

On the final green-flag pit stop with just 46 laps remaining, Pastrana was hit with a speeding penalty for too fast exiting pit road. Not a surprise, considering it was his first attempt at a green flag pit stop.

Speaking about his pit road miscue, Pastrana said, "I had to go through the pit twice. I got on the gas at the end when I thought it was the end. 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."

"You can only drive how fast you can drive -- how fast you set the car up.  It really is a team effort -- from before practice -- but from the first lap of practice to the first lap of the race and just getting everyone together.  Every driver out there wants to win.  I know it’s going to be a really long time.  I believe we can be a top-20 driver this year and hopefully a top-10 next year -- maybe shooting for wins the year after.  It’s not going to be a fast process. I’m happy. I’m actually really happy with how we ran today," Pastrana said following the race.

Next up for Pastrana and the No. 99 team: Darlington Raceway in two weeks. 
Travis Pastrana calls 22nd-place finish in NASCAR debut a "team effort" Travis Pastrana calls 22nd-place finish in NASCAR debut a "team effort" Reviewed by Unknown on Saturday, April 28, 2012 Rating: 5