TRAVIS PASTRANA, No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry, Pastrana199 Racing
What are you expectations for the K&N Series race? "I'm really excited. I had an amazing test here two weeks ago and Matt Crafton was able to get in the car and we got it right, right away. Felt great off the track and we were turning lap times real close to the -- well, at the front of the pack and came back this weekend and it wasn't the same deal, so I guess that's why they race. We're changing a lot on the car before the qualifying, so we're going to cross our fingers and give her hell."
What is your NASCAR and RallyCross schedule for 2012? "I really think that the Global RallyCross I'm doing the whole series. NASCAR's where I want to go, but unfortunately -- or fortunately -- my background in Rally, the sponsors know that I can do well. I've had a proven record in Rally. We're funding a lot of the NASCAR races through the Global RallyCross and, I tell you what, that's a fun series. It's something that I really enjoy doing. We had planned on doing more, kind of getting away from everything I was doing in the past, but with this it gives me an opportunity to keep racing, keep you in cars and it really helps with the sponsorship to hopefully continue on and do the best that we can in NASCAR. The schedule -- the problem was GRC actually just announced their schedule as of a couple of weeks ago, so it changed. Unfortunately, I won't be able to make three of the K&N races and the initial plan was to do the entire K&N championship, so that was very disappointing, but at the same time I think we'll be able to hopefully use those races because they're at the NASCAR tracks. Hopefully, you'll be able to acquire more sponsorship, more fans and, hopefully, build both programs as much as w e can."
What was your initial reaction to Bristol? "TV does not do this place justice and I was really excited to come here -- something talking to every driver they were like, 'Man, you've got to come to the night race at Bristol.' It was all I ever heard. Coming in and getting to see this place was really cool. When I actually got on the track, because it looks -- the banks are so steep that I was just thinking that I was going to stick like glue and, man, I came out and I felt like I was 'Tokyo Drift' out there. I was sideways all the way around and I was like, 'Holy cow. This is going to be entertaining,' because you can't really see three cars in front of you, so you have to rely on your spotter. Yesterday there was a guy spun and he was not that far in front of me and the spotter's like, 'Brake. He spun in front of you,' and I'm like, 'No, he didn't -- oh yeah he did. Here we go.' It comes up quick."
Do you know enough about what these cars are doing? "No. The short answer is no and the long answer is that's really why Matt Crafton has been so instrumental in just helping, because unfortunately we had a -- it was a bit off. Even with Matt in the test, he went out there and came back in and made an adjustment. Went out there -- came back in and made an adjustment. Went out three times and he was the fast car on the track and I was like, 'alright.' So then, the rest of the test for me was a lot easier. I was just working on trying his lines, driving how he was driving and that worked out well. This last time, he wasn't in the top-25 when he finished his testing and I said, 'Oh boy. It's going to be a little different.' I have a very good feel of what the car is doing. The problem is I cannot tell you why. I might say, 'Hey, it's really loose coming out of the corner,' but he's like, 'No. Actually you're tight. You're loose coming into the corner. That's making you tight in the center and that's why you're loose coming off.' Not just what I feel. The last thing that I remember is, man, I almost hit the wall on the back end because I was loose coming off. A lot of times, like in Phoenix last year, we came into the corner and the front was hitting -- there was a bump in the track that I had never even really thought of. You can't even hardly feel it, but it touched the splitter or whatever and it would go to the top of the track, so I would say its tight in the middle and they keep trying to lower the front and soften the front to get it to turn better and I'm like, 'You guys are making it worse.' He was like, 'Oh, is it just over the bump?' And I was like, 'Yeah.' It's just the little things I need to learn and we're learning them. It's just a process."
How has your entrance into NASCAR impacted your expectations? "It hasn't actually. My goal is to one day, when I come to a NASCAR track for someone to say not, 'Oh, that's Travis, the guy that could ride motorcycles, the guy that could do Rally cars, the crazy guy that crashed a lot of stuff.' But instead, 'Hey the guy that could drive and we have to watch out for him today.' That's still my objective. Everyone said, 'Well, if you don't succeed right away, are you just going to jump ship? I said, 'No, it's kind of the opposite plan.' Eventually, if you don't have the talent then you don't have sponsorship and you can't continue on. My goal is to make improvements enough every week to make the team appreciate what you're doing or you appreciate the team and to be able to continue on week after week. Finding sponsorship has been tough. Boost, Samsung have been great, but until we get out there -- we only have seven guaranteed races this year and I'm going to try to make that eight, nine, 10, 14 -- I want to race the rest of the season. It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of faith in the guys that I can pull through. I believe I can, as does every other driver out there. My goal is to make it in this sport even without anything coming into it just to say, 'This is the goal."
Do you think people don't see your intensity? "Without a doubt, but bottom line is that you have to make improvements. You have to go out there and eventually you have to win. Really, the public perception is what it is -- it's been great for me up to this point. With action sports, you can be that guy. I'm one of the more professional guys in action sports. At Daytona, I'm probably one of the least professional guys in NASCAR and I'm looking around going, 'Alright, we have to step up and we have to figure out how to play this game and how to drive these cars faster.' Whatever the perception is, it doesn't really matter if you're winning. We have to figure out a way to win."