Travis Pastrana made his debut Friday in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Toyota All-Star Showdown.
The Toyota All-Star Showdown began with Friday night, which included the debut of Travis Pastrana and also showcased a possible coming-out party for two Whelan All-American drivers in the 75-lap feature event.
Pastrana's qualifying run was a decent first effort under the pressure of qualifying for the event. He made it into the event on time and did not have to race in the Open at the end of the night.
The stars of the night were Kyle Busch development driver Alex Haase and local track star Ryan Partridge. They put on a great show late in the race with Partridge on track experience at Irwindale Speedway winning out in the end.
The night gave signs of what to look for in tonight's event. The track was slick and tough to manage coming off turn four early in the night, but as the night progressed, the low groove went away. During the Open, most of the drivers raced the middle to high grooves of the multi-groove track.
Johnny Borneman Jr had to qualify through the Open last night and learned track conditions late.
Last night the track cooled from qualifying until the start time of the Open. The Open got underway at just about the time the midway point of the race will be tonight. As the race progresses to the last half of the Toyota All-Star Showdown, drivers will see the low groove disappear as a viable groove.
In the early going of the 225-lap race, the drivers who can take advantage of the low side early and then adjust to run the high groove will do well. The drivers who qualified through the Open last night should be best prepared for the late conditions tonight.
Another development later in the evening was during double file restarts. The leader chose the high groove on all restarts later in the night. Something to look for in tonight's race.
The tire Goodyear brought to this race looked like it held up well in the Open.
The first test of the Goodyear tire that is being used for the Toyota All-Star Showdown was the 50-lap Open. Based on how well the tires held up during the Open, there should be no issues with tire wear in the stop race.
Winner of the Whelen All-American 75-lap feature Ryan Partridge felt his tires were still in great shape as he crossed the line for the win last night.
Eric Holmes and his pit crew were busy changing a motor on Friday nightt.
The pit crew of Eric Holmes and the Napa No. 20 worked most of the night working on their engine after qualifying. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West veteran's team put in some overtime to fix an issue that arose druing qualifying Friday afternoon.
Holmes has yet to win at Irwindale and he has a solid opporunity to take home the hardware on Saturday.
Travis Pastrana climbs in for his first ever NASCAR qualifying run at Toyota All-Star Showdown
A week to the day after announcing a partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing, Travis Pastrana strapped into the No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota to take on the Irwindale Speedway half mile.
Pastrana's run was in the heat of the day, and turn four was at its slickest for his run. Pastrana struggled with the slick turn four and lost momentum coming off the corner on each of his runs. It was a common problem for most of the drivers throughout qualifying.
Travis Pastrana will start 20th for the Toyota All-Star Showdown. This will be a good spot for Pastrana to learn the ins and outs of driving in traffic and adjusting to changing conditions behind other drivers.
Steven Walllace has gone from the largest track he will run in his career to one of the shortest.
Steven Wallace has possibly the best piece in the pit area for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown and his 16th place qualifying run will not be indicative of his performance tonight. The Rusty Wallace Incorporated team is loaded for bear in this event and they will show well tonight.
Steven Wallace struggled in his qualifying with the hot and slick conditions of turns four and entering turn one as well. His car turned well in the heavily shaded area off of turn two, which will be much like the cooler conditions tonight for the race.
Kevin Conway struggled in the Whelen All American race.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American series experimented with qualifying heat races to determine the starting positions for the 75-lap feature. The heat races were a success except for the fact that some drivers could not repair their cars in time for the 75-lap feature.
Expect to see next year's K&N Pro Series adapt this qualifying race strategy to the 225-lap feature. Possibly two 25-lap qualifying races to determine the starting positions. This will add flavor and excitement to an already exciting event.
One interesting fact that came out of the Heat races and the subsequent 75-lap feature was Kevin Conway's inability to compete against the lower rung of NASCAR talent. Conway entered the Whelen All-American race to get in some laps before the NASCAR season began, and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year struggled to compete.
Last year it was Sergio Pena that impressed. This year Ryan Partridge and Alex Haase put on a show.
NASCAR wants this opening to the NASCAR season to showcase its future, and Friday night it did just that. The NASCAR Whelen All-American 75-lap feature was a spectacular battle between two drivers that know each other very well.
Irwindale regular Ryan Partridge and Kyle Busch protege Alex Haase battled tooth and nail in the last half of the 75-lap feature. The greatest show of driving skill for both drivers came after a late restart. Haase grabbed the lead and as the two battled, he attempted to slam the door on Partridge as the two exited turn four.
Both drivers were inches away from disaster but a quick move by Partridge to break slightly without losing momentum sealed the victory for him when Haase had to let out of the throttle.
Partridge said of the incident, "I know Alex is a hard racer. I saw the run he got. When he came over for the crossover move I braked slightly and I think we may have just touched. It was fun. A lot of fun." A smile crossed Partridge's face as he reveled in his first big win.
Alex Haase was also complimentary of Partridge, who he races with on a regular basis. Haase said of Partridge, "He straight up beat us. All and all we had a great car. I love this track and I have the track record in trucks but haven't won in legends, trucks or super late models here."
Both drivers will be heard from this year after putting on a thrilling show to kick off the NASCAR Toyota Showdown and Speed's 2011 NASCAR schedule. Now the NASCAR K&N Pro Series will have their work cut out for them to top last night's event.