Pastrana talks about 2012 plans

Toyota Motorsports press release

Travis Pastrana, Pastrana-Waltrip Toyota
Travis Pastrana, Pastrana-Waltrip Toyota

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

TRAVIS PASTRANA, No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry, Pastrana199 Racing

What is the news about your NASCAR schedule? "We were looking to get 20 races in the Nationwide Series, but with the sponsorship -- we've got it really good through K&N, Boost Mobile and Samsung -- they've agreed to do seven rounds. We were going to try to do the best that we could with that seven rounds. I said, 'You know what, we need to get out there and we need to get racing. So let's announce the schedule, let's start in Richmond.' We'll hit seven rounds and still have the goal of hitting 20 races. Basically, just throwing it out there that we're definitely in 100 percent. We're not doing any of the freestyle motocross or any of that stuff. This is where I want to be. With the help of Waltrip Racing -- those guys are putting me in good cars and we're ready to get out there and really try to do the best that we can in this sport. We're starting at Richmond and we're trying to go through as much as we can after that."

Were you disappointed not to race in the Nationwide Series last year? "Last year, definitely shot myself in the foot for sure and had a lot of sponsors and a lot of people relying on me to show up. Unfortunately, I shattered my ankle and my foot at the X Games. I will still be going back to the X Games for Rally Cross. I think Rally Cross program actually working really closely with the NASCAR tracks now so I believe they just announced that series, which we were also waiting for. Really looking forward to being able to be at the race track as much as possible - - be driving as much as possible, but we've been starting with Matt Crafton as the main driver coach for me. He's out here running today in the Truck Series. Doing the entire K&N Series, minus one that unfortunately conflicts with Rally Cross. Obviously, the main focus is to be out there. Bristol is the first race. We actually have a test at Bristol here Monday -- directly following the Daytona 500. Just basically want to put it out there that NASCAR is definitely my future and definitely where I want to go. Instead of waiting for the sponsors to come to us, we're going to get out there and show them that we're ready to go race. We'll see what we can get for the rest of the season. Definitely big thanks to the Michael Waltrip Racing guys and everyone that's trying to guide me in the best direction possible. This is going to be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time with the guys. Even on a side note -- we're pretty much done with all the other stuff as far as the shenanigans with Freestyle and everything. Last year we did a filming for a movie that's going to come out in theatres mid-summer. Nitro Circus and Michael Waltrip Racing guys actually helped me with building a bus that we jumped with seven people and ended up going almost 200 feet in a bus over a huge gorge. They made it safe and made it fun so I would like to thank the guys for getting that bus to safely fly that gap. Hopefully, we'll be able to showcase NASCAR is that movie as well. We will be able to showcase NASCAR in that movie because we've already filmed it and with the help of these guys, it's been a lot of fun."

Why did you pick these races to run? "The reason that we've chosen the races we have is just to get as much diversity as we possibly can. I'm definitely looking forward to running a road course -- trying to get the funding to at least do a K&N West as well. Trying to get on as many different tracks as possible. Of course, tracks like Darlington is something that I've looked forward to running for a very long period of time. Indianapolis -- last year I thought it was going to be a lot of fun because it was more of a flatter, shorter track, which I can slide a car -- I've been doing that my whole life. I just have to figure out how to not slide a car now and we'll see how that works out. Just trying to get as much diversity as we can in the races that we're guaranteed to do. Have great sponsorship lined up for the start, but I said, 'Let's try to pick the best tracks we can, let's do the best that we can with what we've got guaranteed and let's keep looking.' I want to be racing every single weekend. If we get 20 races or 25 races, that's what I need to get seat time."

What is the 3D movie about? "With the 3D -- it was a challenge last year for sure. I knew last year was going to be a challenge -- we still had freestyle motocross, we still had best trick, we still had filming for the movie -- there was a lot of stuff that came up. On a positive note, when that 3D film comes out this year, the Waltrip Racing guys in that shop really put a lot of time into developing a lot of the stunts that we did. It actually starts out in the Waltrip Racing shop. Just trying to really promote myself and the sponsors and give myself the best opportunity as well as the fans from action sports to understand what this sport is about."

What is your impression of Daytona? "Daytona has so much history. It's just absolutely awesome. Even back from my motocross days -- got my first win here and then just raced the 24 Hours (of Daytona) here -- so it has a lot of special memories. It's kind of neat actually to be able to go as a fan. I definitely would rather be out there driving. I wish I was driving all year last year, but to get to go to a lot of the races and spend some time with the drivers and actually listen. Just yesterday I was watching the two heats in the spotter's stand. I really had no idea on the restrictor plate races how much chaos -- it was like a drama series. I thought I was going to get hit over the head with a couple things. Those guys were yelling back and forth and making deals. It's been really a fun deal to learn a lot more about the sport. Motocross, when I got into it -- it was all I would eat, breathe and sleep. Then I went to Rally cars and that was all you did for literally seven years -- that was the focus. Coming over here, there's a lot of history that I need to learn. There's a lot of history -- I actually did the rookie seminar and they showed a whole video on basically how NASCAR got started. It makes you smile and makes you really want to get out there and try to represent these guys the best you can. Bottom line is that you can bring in whatever media, you can bring in whatever fans, but you have to race well. That's the main goal. Just trying to learn from everybody out there. The really cool part is the drivers have all been more than helpful. Every single guy that I've gone up to literally has gone out of their way to try to send me in the right direction or say, 'Hey, you should talk to him or you should talk to this track guy or this guy that builds cars.' It's been a great experience. Now I just want to get in the car. Definitely, it's been a fun week."

How difficult is the transition from action sports to NASCAR? "For sure, no matter what you drive or what you ride, no matter what you've been successful in the past -- if you switch sports you're starting not from square one. You understand the balance, you understand the dedication and you understand what it takes to get to the top of a sport. It's still unique. Motocross was all about aggression on two wheels. Rally cars was listening to the co-driver and having to understand that and very aggressive with all-wheel drive. Now there is a lot of roll speed. It's completely different -- not to say it's a waiting game, but you're trying to be right on that edge without going over that edge which is something that's completely different. I'm part owner in the team and I've always said that you can't be both a business owner -- I always thought you couldn't be a business owner and a driver. I've put really great people around me to basically guide me. I said, 'Look, these guys may be paying your paycheck, but you're technically still my boss, you tell me what to do. I've hired you because you've got a better understanding of this sport than I do and I'm just really excited to be here.' Having said that, when I didn't show up to the race after Indianapolis, I had to go and basically tell a whole crew of people that they didn't have a job for the rest of the year. That's something that was very difficult and something that I definitely never want the responsibility to do again. Something where I messed up. Everyone knew the risk when they got into it, but it really had me take a step back and say, 'Are you serious about this? Is this really where you want to go? Is this where you want to be in your future? Are you willing to have these people that are going to get on your bandwagon -- are you willing to take them all the way? Are you willing to have these guys believe in you and not let them down?' That's been the toughest part about being responsible for more than just yourself. Whereas action sports, you might have one team manager and that's pretty much it or maybe a mechanic." ] What were your expectations coming to NASCAR? "For me the perception of NASCAR was never that it was going to be easy for sure. I've done a lot of different sports and every sport, no matter how similar it is or seems, there's always been challenges that as a spectator you'll never really understand. Coming to NASCAR, I was surprised that the harder that I tried to drive, the worse my results ended up. It wasn't necessarily that my lap times weren't as good, but the tires fall off, especially in the short track stuff. With Matt Crafton, in testing we did a lot of 10 lap runs. I was like, 'Alright, our times are right there, we're pretty consistent.' What we didn't realize until just going to the test this last year and after the races, my tires fall off a lot faster than his do because I'm slipping and sliding a lot more than he is. He's really consistent with his braking marks. He backs the car up and the tires get warmer and really understands what the car is going to do on the long run. For me, I need to get in that car now and I need to understand how far I can push it. With the roll speed, if I mess up my corner, I'm not going as fast as everyone else and I want to get on the throttle. With all wheel drive, the front tires pulled it right around. With rear wheel drive, it either steps out sideways and then you're burning the tires off and going slow or it pushes the front end because it takes all the weight off the front. That's been a difficult part just switching from all wheel drive to rear wheel drive."

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About this article
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Matt Crafton , Travis Pastrana , Eric Gilbert
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing
Tags pastrana, toyota, waltrip racing