Sunday, May 22, 2011

Q&A with Travis Pastrana

   Extreme sports star Travis Pastrana plans to make his debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in July at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont, Ind., outside Indianapolis. In the meantime, he has been running a couple races in the K&N Pro Series, including this past weekend at Iowa Speedway.chances if you will. You listen to your co-driver and you just start cutting corners a little bit more. You can carry more momentum into your corners, you’re breaking later and you’re breaking harder. Here, in NASCAR, you know the course so it’s not about taking chances. If you take a chance you’re just simply overshooting the corner. You’re pushing up the

   Pastrana met with the media over the weekend for an update on his NASCAR career.

   What has your biggest transition been coming into NASCAR?
  “Definitely the biggest transition for me is with Rally it’s all about aggression. You can make up time by simply taking corner. It’s a lot more that comes down to it -- communication with your team. Let them know exactly what the car is doing and how they can help you get around the course faster because everyone is very close and it’s just a matter of figuring out that exact line and the line changes every lap so it’s been a lot of fun.”

   Would you like your Rally co-driver to be with you in NASCAR?
   “For sure. I tell you what, I did really well in Rally mostly because I had a great co-driver. That’s kind of what your spotter is like in this I guess.”

   How is NASCAR compared to the stunts you have done?
   “I was always a really competitive person so I don’t really get nervous as much about getting injured or crashing. My nerves come from trying to succeed and do the best you can in the
competition. For me, I’m just as nervous if not more nervous in this sport because there are a lot of eyes on this sport. Going to Rally, I had probably two years before anyone really started paying attention, which was kind of nice. Here, it’s not the Cup but there are a lot of eyes. A lot of sponsors and a lot of money involved trying to help me to reach up where my goal will eventually be. The learning process has been tough and we have a lot to learn.”

   How much of a learning curve is there when you get to a new track?
   “That’s been really difficult for me. With the motorcycle I can get on and I won’t even have to look at the course and in the second lap I’ve done all of the jumps and probably by the third or fourth lap I’m up to speed. Where that is what all of the guys here have been doing -- even the guys that haven’t driven this course particularly, they are familiar with their equipment. They are familiar with everything and they really come right up to speed. Where, me, every time we change tires or have cold rubber or whatever is going on -- or it rained a little -- I’m very, very cautious. I’m just definitely trying to get a lot more used to; I’ve always been able to read dirt very well. That’s just what I’ve grown up doing and training on.
   "Pavement is definitely something that is different, and trying to read where you’re going to have the traction and how to get the balance of the car right. So, yeah, we had an hour and a half of practice and I could’ve used another four hours probably. In fact, I probably could’ve used another four days. It is what it is and I do better under race conditions than practice conditions so qualifying has always been a very difficult part, and definitely it’s going to be difficult here today for sure.”

   What is the biggest thing you’ve learned in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series in your two starts?
   “The biggest thing that I’ve learned and something that was really funny is Jimmie Johnson said the biggest help that he had that anyone ever told him, and probably the biggest thing that made the most sense, is he said, ‘When you think you leave something in the corner, you didn’t.’ Which, basically means the harder you try to drive these cars -- if you feel like you’re
doing everything really smooth you’re like, ‘Oh, I have more. I can do more.’ And then you start pushing harder and your lap times -- it feels faster -- you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m sliding and I’m pushing and working the car and sweating.’ And then your times are slowing down and by the end -- it was interesting because at my first race at Irwindale I just drove. I was like, ‘I don’t want to get in a crash.’ At the end of the race we had a car that was untouched, a car that the tires were still good, a car that was ready to race and we were able to race the last couple of laps real hard and it was my best finish. After that I was -- racing from the beginning I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m working the car and taking the aero off of the front and the back bumpers and banging it up, and by the end we got nothing. So, I think you have to take an in-between approach.”

   What made you decide to get into NASCAR?
   “It’s the most competitive form of racing in the world and it’s definitely about competition for me. It’s going to be the biggest challenge for sure because it’s so much different than why I’ve been able to succeed in other things just based on aggression. NASCAR is not so much the aggression so much as it is the technique and communication. That, for me, is a huge challenge and something that I want to take on.”