No. 60 driver doing things his own way
Roush Fenway Racing's five drivers sat in a row Thursday at the team's visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, four of them with their hands on their laps, wearing black suits with a crisp gray button-up underneath, silver watches peeking past their left sleeves. At the end of the row sat Travis Pastrana, who stood out even though he also wore a watch and donned some gray: a black watch on his right hand, and a gray-and-purple plaid jacket on top of a purple shirt.
"I didn't get the memo on the black suit," Pastrana joked as he was introduced at the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The former X Games star certainly stands out among teammates Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, a fact that's embraced by both owner Jack Roush and his drivers.
"Travis is his own character," Biffle said. "He's his own brand. If I go walk out on the street, I'm the driver of the 16 car, whatever. But Travis is his own brand and it's his own image and I like that."
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You can tell from Pastrana's neon yellow and bright pink No. 60 Ford that, even on a sponsorship level, Pastrana is a different type of driver. The hood remains empty, waiting for a sponsor that will accept his personality as Jack Roush has.
"I really try to find a partner that's going to be there for the long term, you know, hopefully we'll get a couple races and then we'll find the partner that fits," he said. "The search is still on for someone that fits, for a sponsor that looks at this car and says, 'Yeah, that's our guy.'"
That thought crossed Trevor Bayne's mind in 2009, when he helped bring Pastrana to NASCAR after showing up at a Red Bull event with then-Diamond-Waltrip Racing's Blake Bechtel. Even though you probably won't find a purple plaid suit in Bayne's closet, he's looking forward to finally calling Pastrana a teammate.
"We have a lot in common; I wish my race car looked like his," Bayne said, smiling. "Luckily, he's breaking the mold for Roush for me, because I've been trying to do this in NASCAR for a long time."
The action sports bond has eased the transition for Pastrana, who says many of his teammates are action sports fans.
"Especially with the drivers, there's almost no difference between action sports guys, motocross guys, race car drivers," Pastrana said. "… They've grown up racing stuff. They've been crashing stuff their whole life."
Crashing stuff is not what Pastrana hopes to do this season in his first full-time series bid, considering that he believes his ability do things his own way depends on success.
"Bottom line is, I have to do well; you do well, and they'll let it go, you don't do well, and I'm going to be in a solid colored everything -- suit and tie -- and I'll be trying to do everything that I can to figure out how to get into these cars," he said.
Pastrana, who still considers himself a rookie, will have a lot to learn this year, but believes the Roush team can offer him the structure and stability he needs to be successful. As a motocross rider, Pastrana moved in with his team manager to make sure he was motivated to train and earn his respect. And while he's not packing his bags to move in with Roush, he expects similar inspiration.
"With Jack (Roush), I'm going to do everything I possibly can to be there every day that he requests and everything because I have a lot of respect for him and his team."
Even wearing a Red Bull hat, Roush believes that attitude is what makes Pastrana fit into his team's culture.
"He’s motivated, he’s driven, he’s ambitious, he’s talented and that fits in very well," Roush said. "The fact that he’s had the X Games and the rally series and all the other exhibition things that he’s done is different…. The fact that he dresses a little different, he’s got a different group of people that are his fans to this point certainly doesn’t cause me any problem."
Pastrana's true test will be what he can do with the pink and yellow No. 60 car, painted so after his dad complained about not being able to pick out the car on the track.
"Even Jack, he's like, 'All right, you say you can do this, this and this. Go ahead. I'm going to give you everything you need at your fingertips; take what you want, don't take what you don't want, and let's see if we can make a champion out of you.'"