Motocross and rally car champion Travis Pastrana enters 2012 with a new challenge on his plate. Never one to shy away from an opportunity to quench his thirst for competition, Pastrana is making his NASCAR debut in 2012 on multiple series platforms.
Pastrana will make 11 starts in the K&N Pro Series as well as select Nationwide Series events in 2012. One of those Nationwide starts will come at the famed 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway during Labor Day weekend. The trip to Atlanta is one Pastrana already has circled on his calendar.
“Atlanta was always one of my favorites to watch on television because you could actually see the cars going sideways,” said Pastrana. “And if you can see it on television, they’re really sideways in the car, they’re really loose. I like how it’s a faster track . . . and it definitely seems a little rough, a little sliding. So I’m looking forward to getting down there. It should be a good one.”
Pastrana hopes that his experience in motocross and rally car racing, where much time is spent sliding the vehicle on the racing surface, will be something he can parlay into a good run on Atlanta’s slick high-banks. His personal experience has been the more sideways the car is, the more comfortable he is. Sliding around AMS will be a plus for Pastrana, who has found that being comfortable in the car has been the biggest challenge in moving to NASCAR’s heavier bodies and higher horsepower machines.
“Without a doubt, being comfortable sliding a car, and the drifting, the rally car racing, that kind of stuff, even the off-road racing, I think it really helps car control,” said Pastrana. “ . . . Seems like the cars are more free [at Atlanta] than most tracks, so I’m looking forward to getting down there. Hopefully it’ll suit my style a little bit.”
Leaving an arena of motorsport that Pastrana was on top of could be intimidating for many, but for Pastrana, who says that “every day I want to wake up with a passion,” it’s about the challenge of being a part of the top series that racing can offer.
“NASCAR is the most competitive motorsport in the world,” said Pastrana. “It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve definitely learned a lot more than I thought there was to learn in this sport, and I think the fact that it’s so simple, it’s dynamically complex. Because if you’re two-tenths of a second off, you’re way off the pace. Whereas most of the things that I’ve done, if you were within two seconds, you can make that up in a lap. It’s been very difficult, a lot of patience but definitely trying to figure out that balance to the car. Coming from all-wheel drive with the rally racing and also coming from the motocross racing, everything’s been about aggression. So switching over to NASCAR, now a lot’s about just how you’re controlling that car and how you’re getting the car to handle and talking to the crew. Making sure that everyone’s on the same page.
Honestly the NASCAR guys are genuinely the nicest guys I’ve really ever met. More people have tried to take me under their wing and really helped out in so many ways beyond anything that I could have possibly imagined. Definitely getting a little criticism from some of the fans in action sports coming over to a sport they don’t see as much adrenaline or as much excitement, but for me the competition is just so amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more. So I’m really looking forward to getting in here.”
NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012. Reserve your AdvoCare 500 ticket now. For more information, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (877) 9-AMS-TIX, (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.