Tag:Travis Pastrana
Posted on: November 12, 2010 6:04 pm

Next Big Thing - Again

AVONDALE, Ariz. - If you haven't heard of Travis Pastrana there's a good chance you're under the age of, oh about twenty.

But he's a worldwide household name among the younger set who have followed his exploits on either motorcycles or in the X-Games or in rally racing.

Next year he'll throw his hat into the NASCAR arena and no doubt his millions of fans will follow him.

Just how long he'll stay there however is very much in doubt.

Pastrana opens NASCAR up to a much-needed younger audience, something the sport desperately needs as it keeps losing ground in attracting and retaining that important demographic. If just a fraction of his fandom tunes in when he makes his Nationwide Series debut sometime in 2011, it will be a major lift for the sport.

However it's a scenario that has a familiar ring to it.

We heard the same tune when Danica Patrick decided to try her hand at stock car racing and there's no doubt her presence brought her fans and Indy Car curiosity seekers to NASCAR for at least a glance.

Several of Patrick's former open wheel colleagues were also going to bring NASCAR into a bigger spotlight when Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier and Max Papis among others took the stock car plunge.

Certainly to a degree it happened - at least at the outset.

Until those folks got tired of watching the former stars of other racing disciplines struggle trying to figure out the complexities of driving a stock car competitively. 

Montoya has been the most successful of the bunch with his Cup win and Chase appearance last year. But the others either didn't or haven't come anywhere close to the level of performance they enjoyed in their previous employment.

Patrick is still at it and has shown some progress - albeit very small - this season and has signed up for another partial campaign in 2011, again balancing the Nationwide-Indy Car schedule of this year.

Pastrana's plan is for even less time behind the wheel than Patrick with only seven Nationwide starts on next season's plan before a 20-race schedule in 2012.

Color me skeptical.

What has stunted Patrick's learning curve is the back and forth between stock cars and Indy Cars. I said before she even began her lofty idea to split time that it would be a major hinderance and even Patrick has pointed out the more time she spends in her stock car seat the better she feels and races.

Now here comes Pastrana, with no experience whatsoever in anything remotely close to a NASCAR stock car taking a flying leap into the sport's number two division. No late model stock car starts, regional tours or even much of a testing program is going to proceed Pastrana's first attempt as a NASCAR driver.

That won't stop the expectation level for success to be sky high for his adoring fans who are accustomed to seeing Pastrana do outrageous things in his motorsports career while winning on a regular basis.

Unless he's able to do the impossible and somehow become an instant NASCAR winner, the education of Pastrana will probably not be a riveting story for that fan base to watch.

If Pastrana is really serious about crossing over from action sports to NASCAR, he needs to commit to a full-time plan. But there's too much money at stake in his other endeavors for that to happen.

I don't doubt for a second that the partnership between Pastrana and Michael Waltrip Racing will be a financial and marketing homerun.

But excuse me if I'm less optimistic about the competitiveness factor and in turn the staying power of Pastrana and his contingent.

Unfortunately I've seen several versions of this story many times before.
Category: Auto Racing
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