News & Media

Seat time most important in Pastrana's comeback

February 08, 2012, Dave Rodman,

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Travis Pastrana struggled a little while climbing the steps into his coach at Daytona International Speedway at a recent Rolex Series sports car test, the legacy of a badly broken right foot and ankle he suffered in a crash in last summer's X Games.

But the broad smile he broke into when describing how he felt while driving the Ferrari 458 he'll share with team owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman in the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona was unmistakable.

"Everything that I've done has been, 'Attack harder and you'll find time.' With NASCAR that's not so much the case."


"Five months out and I'm just really getting back walking, and not walking well," Pastrana said. "But I can drive OK so I guess that's what counts."

Getting laps in the Ferrari is part of Pastrana's program of four-wheel seat time he'll get this season, including the full K&N Pro Series East and seven races, at least, in the Nationwide Series for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing that Pastrana said will be sponsored by Samsung Boost Mobile.

"I just gotta get seat time," Pastrana said. "There's just no substitute. You run the bias plies [tires used in K&N] as opposed to radials but getting time in the car, figuring out how to make passes and when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive and more than anything, learning how to talk to the team so they understand what I mean and to try to get a feel to run these cars quick."

Pastrana's first stock car test this year will be on Feb. 7 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., site of the June 9 K&N race.

"I would have liked to have gone a little sooner but I wasn't exactly sure on the ankle or the schedule," Pastrana said. "I just wrote the check for the K&N Series because we were talking to different sponsors and doing different things and I just said, 'I need to get in the car and I need to test' because the biggest priority to me is seat time."

Pastrana's Nationwide debut, originally set for Phoenix in February, has been delayed.

"We'll just watch the progress through the K&N in the first part of the year," Waltrip said of the former action sports star who has no plans to compete on motorcycles. "I would hope by maybe April or May -- maybe Richmond time -- he's ready to race Nationwide.

"I think he was well on his way to being ready last fall, with the way he ran in the K&N car and what he had learned."

Then came the 2011 X Games. Pastrana said the recovery from the injuries he suffered last July are the worst he's gone through "since I basically shattered my pelvis and broke my back when I was 14."

Pastrana said his therapy is primarily based on regaining flexibility in his ankle.

"Just this last week I started working on getting a little strength in there," Pastrana said. "My trainer said, 'Your right foot's your paint brush and right now you can't even stand on it.' Honestly -- for driving, not riding -- it feels really good in the car so that's not too huge of a concern.

"However I want to get it as strong as I can because the stronger you are with everything the less liability you have and the better you're gonna be."

Even though Pastrana raced at Phoenix last season in the K&N car, by the end of April he will have raced twice at Richmond in the K&N Series.

"It's definitely the smarter way," Pastrana said. "I've always been overenthusiastic and under-prepared and we found even just running the K&N Series last year that we're gonna need a little more preparation and I think that's good.

"I really need to just get in there and figure out when I can push and when I can't push and I think the K&N Series is a great start for that."

Pastrana made four K&N starts last season between the East and West Series. He started 10th at Phoenix but crash damage knocked him into a 25th-place finish. His best East Series finishes were a pair of 22nds, at Iowa and New Hampshire. He did finish a promising sixth in his stock car debut in the 2011 Toyota All-Star Showdown, formerly a K&N Series special event held in January.

"It's a challenge -- the biggest challenge I've ever had," Pastrana said. "Everything that I've done has been, 'Attack harder and you'll find time.' With NASCAR that's not so much the case. My best finish was the first race, where we really just sat in the back, stayed out of trouble and was able to push towards the end."

Mike Greci, who was crew chief for Ryan Truex's consecutive K&N championships in 2009-2010, will head Pastrana's K&N team. Waltrip said they'll consider working Pastrana's Nationwide schedule around the K&N schedule "so Greci would be the same voice in his ears, no matter what he's racing."

Waltrip said PWR is still actively seeking sponsorship for the 14-race K&N program but with Pastrana's help they were committed.

"It's an expense that Travis and Pastrana-Waltrip feel like is necessary in order to give him the best opportunity to go out and be competitive when he runs his first Nationwide race," Waltrip said.