Travis Pastrana is set to climb back into his No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota NASCAR Nationwide Series car this weekend for Saturday’s History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’ll be a double duty weekend for the driver, but not in the normal NASCAR sense. Actually, Saturday, itself, will be a double duty day for the driver. After the Nationwide Race, he’ll compete in the Rallycross event, also at Charlotte.
On Wednesday, Pastrana sat down wit the media to discuss his “other job” this weekend. Here’s a transcript from that press conference:
“This weekend is going to be absolutely awesome. Everyone at Dodge and this new Dodge Dart has been so enthusiastic. You know, we haven’t had a lot of time in the car but I really think we’ve got a great platform to work with. So, I’m definitely excited to get out there. With the new GRC, there’s definitely no way that you couldn’t go out there. Everyone was like ‘Oh, it’s taking your focus off of NASCAR’ but no, definitely not. But coming out here and having an opportunity to race against the best guys in the world of Rallycross and also the top Americans on American soil and driving a Dodge Dart is going to be awesome.”
WHAT SHOULD THE NOVICE RALLY RACE FAN EXPECT IN SATURDAY NIGHT’S RACE?
“Well Saturday is going to be awesome because you’ve got a lot of guys coming from the World Championship, you’ve got a lot of guys that have done Rally and Rallycross in the United States with X Games and they have a good Rally program. But really, this is the first Rallycross event that’s been on the level in the U.S. You have a lot of manufacturers involved. You have all the best drivers in the world that are coming over and it’s going to be really interesting to see who comes out on this course and can actually adapt pretty quick. As much as we know about the course, the course has been changing all the time, so we’re just trying to figure out how we can adapt to it as well as we can. There’s going to be a jump on the frontstretch, we’ve got a water hazard, basically, on pit road. These cars are made to go off-road, but now with the first round we’ve just got the pavement which is actually going to be real exciting because the tires cool down when they hit the dirt so without that chance to cool down, there’s so many variables, there’s so much new for us coming out with a new car. It’s going to be real exciting to see where we stand.”
GLOBAL RALLYCROSS IS ON A BIG STAGE THIS SEASON AND YOU ARE USHERING IN THE DODGE DART.
“What it means is that there are a lot of manufacturers putting in a lot of money and there’s going to be a lot of carnage because every driver is going to try to prove that they are the driver that they want their manufacturer to stick with. It’s going to be absolute carnage because the two corners that are 180s at the end of the straightaways, you’re going to be coming about 130 miles per hour to a hairpin. It’s pretty easy to pass someone if you stay on the gas a little longer and just when you use eight tires, it’s always better than four tires so it’s going to be a lot of fun out there and definitely try to get your car through both heat races, hopefully not an LCQ, and then go on to the main event with the car that hopefully, if you won one of the heat races, you’re starting up front and if maybe it’s not as beat up as the guys that are starting up front and you’ll have something for the main event.
“I like the format. You get a point for the heat race wins, which is really cool because it motivates everyone to get out there. We kind of saw Jimmie Johnson, he kind of sat back after getting that first heat race win on this last race. Every race means something. It’s neat because we’ve got a good format in place but being how this is the first year, first race for GRC, we’re going to learn from the mistakes that are probably going to be made. It’s going to be action, carnage, chaos and fun and that’s what RallyCross is all about. I’m definitely excited to put that Dodge Dart, hopefully on top of that podium at the end of the week.
“You’re going to look for zero to 60 in under three seconds, which is absolutely ridiculous. They’re running similar horsepower as the NASCAR cars, but they’re so much lighter and with all-wheel drive, they take off like a rocket ship. Wherever your front-end tires are aimed, that’s where you’re going. It’s definitely a very well-handling machine; I’m looking forward to getting out there.”
THIS RACE IS GOING TO BE ALL TARMAC. HOW MUCH TARMAC EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?
“In the entire U.S. Rally Championship, there’s only one tarmac stage, not even a full tarmac rally. The Europeans think they’re better, and they have more experience on the tarmac stuff, however, you’re on American soil and we’re not going to hand it to ‘em for sure.”
WHAT HAS BEEN MORE CHALLENGING TO ADAPT TO BEHIND THE WHEEL: NATIONWIDE CAR OR RALLYCROSS CAR?
“For me, I’ve grown up, basically, with Rally. That’s my car experience since I was 16 and got a chance to drive a WRC car. That’s been what I’ve always done when we’ve had off-time. I’ve driven a lot of go karts and stuff that are rear-wheel drive but actually handles more like a Rally car, more aggressive. So for me, I feel a lot more at home in a Rally car. A lot of the habits that I’ve learned from Rally I’ve been trying to break here with the rear-wheel drive car in the Nationwide stuff of not getting on the gas too soon. Then when we get back in the Rally car, it’s all about aggression. The second you get in the corner you’re flat, you’re ready to go. It’s going to be interesting going back and forth. For me, I just have more experience with the all-wheel drives so we’re hoping that this weekend we can go back and forth and do well in both.”
WHICH ONE OF THESE IS YOUR DAY JOB NOW? “Both. We’re a team owner with the new Dodge Dart, this Red Bull/Discount Tire program, so it’s on my shoulders if this one does well, but definitely, the future, I’ve been making a lot of effort trying to do well in NASCAR. I think anything you drive is going to help everything else you drive and help your reflexes and help your timing and definitely there’s a lot on our plate this year but I think everything is going to help me with everything and try to get the best we can out of both worlds.”
YOU FOUND THE FENCE DURING ONE OF YOUR DEMONSTRATION RIDES.
“Definitely found the fence, oh yeah. I shifted up instead of down. I’m really excited about the new Dodge Dart and this is a lot of fun. This is one of the first times in the car, so it’s definitely good to get out of the rear-wheel drive Nationwide car and get back in this all-wheel drive and try to be more aggressive with it. Kind of try and have some fun but – oops.”
YOU’RE STILL LEARNING ABOUT THE NATIONWIDE CAR AND YOU’RE DOING DOUBLE DUTY ON SATURDAY.
“Definitely all the habit I’ve been trying to break to come from the four-wheel drive to the rear-wheel drive cars. Basically, trying to re-learn those real quickly, I guess here. Really looking forward to it, though, and feel really good about the new Dodge Dart. The thing has a really good platform to work with. It’s going to be interesting to see what everyone brought here because the first round of GRC, still not even sure exactly what the course is going to be like. No one knows exactly who’s got the advantage, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
HOW BIG OF A TRANSITION IS GOING IMMEDIATLEY FROM NATIONWIDE TO THE DODGE DART GOING TO BE?
“Generally, you can get in a car and you can kind of feel the traction that is has right away. I’m not too worried about transitioning from one vehicle to the other. The fact that they’re such different vehicles, you have to drive them completely differently, so you just have to take a minute, take a break, and kind of reset the brain to figure out the all-wheel drive compared to the rear wheel.”
WHAT CAN THE FANS EXPECT TO SEE SATURDAY NIGHT?
“I guess to explain RallyCross to the NASCAR fans, picture the last five laps of a NASCAR race, because it’s only a five-lap event, and then picture that every single person on the grid started in the first two rows and that’s pretty much what you have. It’s Hail Mary, everyone going for it, lot of carnage, and lot of banging. It’s definitely shorter racing but you’ll have a lot of heat races that go and each heat race there’s a point awarded to the winner so there’s a lot on the line in every race. All of us are going to try to get out there. There’s a lot of new manufacturers, a lot of new cars, especially us with the Dodge Dart and new platforms to work with. Everyone is going to be trying to show that they are the right person for the job and the right car for the job.”
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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