Why Travis Pastrana Is NASCAR's Next Breakout Star

Joseph Shelton@@JosephShelton88Contributor IIIApril 13, 2013

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 12:  Travis Pastrana, driver of the #60 Roush Fenway Racing Mustangs Ford, pulls into the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 12, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

I remember a time when rookie upstart Dale Earnhardt Jr. caused a stir with his appeal to the MTV generation. Although he was portrayed as polarizing to the NASCAR faithful, Junior ultimately won over legions and legions of fans that are loyal to this day.

Now, it appears that the MTV generation is giving back in the form of Travis Pastrana. 

His daring, wild persona has been documented through the years, ever since he burst onto the national scene in 1999 when he won the first-ever MotoX event at the X Games at the age of 16. Since then his career has included numerous X Game medals, a litany of rally and motocross championships and heavy involvement in the United States Hot Rod Association with his No. 199 Nitro Circus Monster Jam truck, named for his MTV production.

Oh yeah, then there's his NASCAR career.

Pastrana definitely has what it takes to be great in NASCAR. For starters, his pleasant demeanor and devil-may-care antics are gold from a public relations standpoint. Plus, he has exhibited an absolute willingness to learn about his equipment and the tracks he is racing on. 

What is also beneficial is the fact that he brings a whole new breed of fan to the sport. The majority of these fans go beyond NASCAR's demographic, but with Pastrana's star power, the sport could see an influx of fans who have never been subject to such sights and sounds.

Results definitely have bearing on how Pastrana's NASCAR career will pan out. Granted, if his career ended today it wouldn't be a memorable one. But he's only a Nationwide rookie with a handful of races under his belt. A brief stint in 2012 with RAB Racing didn't produce the preferred results, as he posted a season-best finish of 13th at Indy. In September, he began racing for Roush-Fenway Racing. 

So far, 2013 has been so-so, to say the least. He has earned two top-10 finishes, at Daytona and Las Vegas, respectively. The season is still young, so expect some great finishes out of this guy as the year progresses. With his Roush-Fenway Racing group, he is sure to experience success.

Just like he has in everything else he has competed in.


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