Travis Pastrana joked that he didn't get the memo.
On Roush Fenway Racing's preseason media day, four of the team's five drivers—Sprint Cup drivers Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards, and Nationwide driver Trevor Bayne—were neatly dressed in black suits. Pastrana wore a plaid shirt, sneakers and a Red Bull baseball cap.
One of these things is not like the others.
And yet Pastrana, a veteran of all things two and four wheels, is determined to be a successful NASCAR driver, taking over the famed No. 60 Ford full time in Nationwide this year. Yes, the same one that Mark Martin established as a powerhouse in the 1990s. Yes, the one Biffle and Edwards won championships with.
That alone should suggest that Pastrana is going to be competitive this year. Why else would Roush trust him with such a high-profile ride, especially when he's not bringing much sponsorship to the table?
Granted, Pastrana will make plenty of sacrifices.
He's got nothing lined up on two wheels anymore, a necessary sacrifice given his lengthy injury history. His Global RallyCross program remains a priority, and he's been given the blessing to continue with that, but thanks to conflicting race dates he won't compete in the full schedule this year. The past few months have been a struggle after shoulder surgery in early October that took him out of the GRC season finale at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
But for a driver with so much on his plate, Pastrana has already shown flashes of talent in his move to stock cars.
He made progress every race in eight Nationwide starts with RAB Racing last year, he scored a best finish of 13th at Indianapolis and even led six laps at Atlanta. In a single start with Roush, at Richmond in September, he won a practice session, started fifth and posted a respectable lead-lap finish.
Pastrana has successfully adapted from one sport to another before, moving from adding stage rally to his repertoire at age 20 and winning four championships there. At 29, he's still in the prime of his career, even though he's been in the spotlight for over a decade now. There's plenty of time for him to become a success in NASCAR.
Sure, the paint scheme is awful, and it may take a while for some NASCAR fans to adjust to Pastrana's sense of style. But if you think that's all he'll be known for in his NASCAR career, you must not have gotten the memo on his talent.
For more from Christopher Leone, follow @christopherlion on Twitter.
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