Roush Fenway’s Travis Pastrana kicked off his 2013 Nationwide Series (NNS) campaign with a career-high 10th-place finish in his NASCAR debut at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). The NNS kicked off its 33-race season at DIS with the DRIVE4COPD 300.
“It was wild,” said Pastrana. “I feel like my goal here was a top-10 and to not crash. I got 10th, and I made it across the finish line. I can’t say enough about this Roush Fenway Racing team. They got me up to the front, which was awesome to start up there. The team told me where to fall back to, so I ran with Tony Stewart and those guys most of the race.
“As soon as people started banging off me with about 18 laps to go, I said, ‘OK, we’ve got a good car,” added Pastrana. “It’s stable. They can take this kind of beating.’ I was more nervous about not crashing, than I was about trying to position myself. I’ll learn from that and hopefully when we get in a similar situation, we’ll be OK.”
Pastrana qualified the No. 60 Ford Mustang in fourth for his NNS debut at the 2.5-mile speedway. At the start of the race, Pastrana dropped to the back of the field. With a yellow stripe on his bumper and limited drafting experience, drafting partners were at a premium.
The No. 60 crew took an early opportunity to pit for fuel after the caution flag waved on Lap 8, returning to competition in 26th. When the race returned to green on Lap 11, Pastrana stayed towards the back of the pack, running in the top-30. He reported that the car was too tight on that run, making it difficult to keep up with the lead pack.
On Lap 31, Juan Carols Blum spun and brought out the second caution of the day, which gave the No. 60 crew an opportunity to work on the car. Pastrana hit pit road on Lap 33, for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help free up the car.
Pastrana remained in the back of the pack, in an attempt to avoid the big wrecks that restrictor-plate racing is known for. Crew chief, Chad Norris and the No. 60 crew continued to tune on the car, making air pressure and chassis adjustments during a Lap 65 pit stop.
Twenty laps later, another caution waved for RFR teammate Trevor Bayne. Pastrana came down pit road for two tires, but after sliding through the pit stall, Norris made the quick decision to change four tires. Pastrana exited pit road in 24th.
He began to work his way to the front of the field and by a caution on Lap 100, was up to eighth. Under the caution, Pastrana took a moment to reflect on how cool it was to race at Daytona. When the field took the green, the driver of the No. 60 Ford was back to business, advancing all the way to third.
Pastrana stayed in the top-15 for the remainder of the race, sustaining some damage in an accident on the final lap, but still managing to finish 10th.
Tony Stewart earned his seventh NNS victory at DIS, while Sam Hornish finished second. Alex Bowman was the highest-finishing rookie in third. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Parker Kligerman comprised the remainder of the top-five.