By admin | January 30, 2011
By Richard Allen
Travis Pastrana can flip motorcycles. He can jump a car from dry land onto a barge in a bay. And, he can skydive from airplanes with no parachute. On Saturday night in Irwindale, California the stunt man turned stock car racer made his NASCAR debut in the Toyota All-Star Challenge.
His run in the race on the half-mile Toyota Speedway was an impressive one. He was able to avoid most of the trouble on the track and came home with a solid 6th place finish. The daredevil who might have seemed the most likely to be involved in a crash actually proved adept at missing such incidents and patiently ran all of the 225 laps to achieve the goal of gaining as much experience as possible.
But the real question concerning Pastrana’s NASCAR career concerns patience. He certainly showed that he could employee that virtue in one race. But, can a person who has spent most of his adult life going from one major thrill to another stick with one thing long enough to master the myriad of nuances and skill sets required to reach the highest levels of the sport?
Granted, NASCAR and its teams have shown in recent years that mastery of those nuances and skill sets may not necessarily be a prerequisite for reaching one of the top three divisions of the sport. But it is required for having success once the driver has gotten to the top levels.
Take note that I am not questioning Pastrana’s talent for motorsports. Few people in the world could do the things he has done so I have little doubt that should he focus on this particular craft and remain in the this type of racing long enough there is a good chance he would be successful.
While this may sound crazy, NASCAR racing is not really a sport for daredevils. To back that statement up, do you consider Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon or Matt Kenseth daredevils?
NASCAR racing is a long grind of long grinds. The races are long and the seasons are longer. Is this something that can provide enough thrills for a person with a daredevil mentality?
With one race under his belt Pastrana has shown that there is material there to work with. And importantly, he is surrounded by very good people such as spotter Matt Crafton and the rest of the team put together by Michael Waltrip Racing and Gary Bechtel. But, this driver is far from ready to take on the competitors mentioned above. It will take years of honing his skills to reach that level.
Will Travis Pastrana have the patience to remain in NASCAR for the long haul and acquire all of those skills necessary to succeed or will this type of motorsports prove to be just another short-lived thrill ride on his way to the next stunt?
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