Travis Pastrana: Is NASCAR's X-Factor a Novelty as Nationwide Debut Nears?

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Travis Pastrana: Is NASCAR's X-Factor a Novelty as Nationwide Debut Nears?
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Daredevil, Travis Pastrana, may be a champion in the X-Games, Rally America and a motorcycle stunt genius, but can he be a contender with the bulky stock cars or just a blip in NASCAR history?

Pastrana, 27, is about to debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the Kroger 200 in Indianapolis July 30. He will be behind the wheel of the No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing.

In January, the X-Games wild child finished sixth in the Toyota All-Star Race at Irwindale Speedway in California.

The race is a battle between drivers in the K&N Pro Series East and West. Pastrana's good finish may have been more attributed to survival than stock car racing talent on an oval track.

Prior to the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire, Pastrana drove in the K&N Pro Series East race starting 28th and finishing 22nd.

Pastrana spoke to the media from the Loudon track saying, "There's a lot of different ways to drive in a circle and I'm still trying to find the fast way."

Harry How/Getty Images

The driver added, "To say I am where I hoped to be, definitely not, but to say I'm disappointed and discouraged with how things are going, definitely not."

Pastrana is running seven NASCAR Nationwide races this year beginning with Indianapolis. In addition he will race the No. 99 at Richmond, Dover, Kansas, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami.

The Pastrana-Waltrip Racing driver is expected to drive 20 races during the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide season. He is under contract for three years to drive the No. 99.

This past April, Pastrana tested at a .416 mile oval track in Virginia for some 90 laps when engine problems cut the test short, but he was able to get a feel for how the Nationwide cars handle.

He worked closely with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, Matt Crafton as his coach. Finding a consistent, smooth line is the biggest issue for the driver of the No. 99. He was expected to do more testing.

Prior to the Indianapolis race he will be participating in the Los Angeles X-Games. Pastrana will be in L.A. on the 28th and 29th, fly to Indianapolis on the 30th then return to Los Angeles for the 31st.

The fearless action sports celebrity has a significant following. No doubt he will draw fans to NASCAR who are curious to see how he will perform.

Pastrana is finding that driving a Nationwide car is more difficult than he expected. Only continued seat time will determine if he can be a contender in NASCAR.

Danica Patrick will be running all of the same races during the remainder of 2011 except for Indianapolis and Dover. Certainly the presence of Patrick and Pastrana will garner media attention that should bode well for NASCAR.

NASCAR is courting the 18-34 year-old male demographic and Pastrana may be one to attract them, especially if he is a quick study who proves he is more than a novelty.

Pastrana is a hot ticket with action sports and extreme motorcycle stunts. His endeavors like Nitro Circus Live, filming a movie with first-time stunts and the opening of a sports action based resort in Panama keep him busy.

With all his travels, one has to wonder just how serious he is about becoming a contender in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, though he obviously wants to be the best at what he does.

We shall soon see Pastrana perform at Indianapolis and from there we will find out if he is a novelty in NASCAR who is just doing a marketing stunt or if he is the real deal in the sport of stock car racing.

Press Conference with media at New Hampshire courtesy of Masslive.com

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