DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 40 places that Travis Pastrana shattered his right ankle and foot last summer have healed enough to get the action sports superstar back in NASCAR this season.
Pastrana, the 11-time X Games gold medalist, will make his first Nationwide Series start April 27 at Richmond International Raceway in what's currently known as the NASCAR Nationwide 250 — though you can bet potential race sponsors will be more interested now. It'll be the first of seven starts in the Nationwide Series for Pastrana, with races at Darlington, Charlotte, New Hampshire, Chicagoland, Indianapolis and Atlanta joining Richmond — and maybe more.
"The wait has been grueling," Pastrana said Friday at Daytona International Speedway. "This is one of the toughest things I've ever done. But we're ready to go now. We have seven Nationwide races planned but if we can secure some additional sponsorship we'll run more. If it were up to me, we'd run every race after Richmond. I'm ready to get this thing going."
Pastrana's foray into the Nationwide Series was postponed in 2011 after a motorcycle jump two nights before his scheduled debut at Indianapolis' O'Reilly Raceway Park went awry. Pastrana shattered his right ankle and foot in a gruesome landing during the Moto X Freestyle event, canceling his NASCAR debut. He had tried to attempt a "TP Roll", or a 720-degree spin off a large jump.
Pastrana managed to get clearance from X-Games officials to compete three days after the injury in the RallyCross event in a car modified with hand controls.
His first NASCAR-sanctioned start of 2012 will come at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series March 17 — part of an 11-race schedule in that series for Pastrana. The St. Patrick's Day date figures to be wrought with exposure for NASCAR's new crossover stars, as Danica Patrick will make her first start at NASCAR's most famous half-mile. Patrick is making the full transition from IndyCar to NASCAR this season, running the entire Nationwide Series schedule and select Sprint Cup Series events.
For those of you who aren't the X-Games type, Pastrana is wildly popular in action sports circles. Boasting 3.3 million "likes" on his Facebook page and over 320,000 followers on Twitter, Pastrana has raced about everything imaginable, from motorcycles to monster trucks and even made his debut in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona this year.
The Richmond Nationwide Series debut should make sponsor executives at Boost Mobile, his primary sponsor, sleep a bit better at night, too. Pastrana will likely again be at the 2012 Summer X Games, held in Los Angeles from June 28 to July 1 — even though he's said he'll only participate in the Rally Car Racing events and give up the Moto X Freestyle competition.
For those of you looking to catch Pastrana in NASCAR action, here's a list of scheduled dates:
Travis Pastrana 2012 Nationwide Series Schedule
Richmond — April 27
Darlington — May 11
Charlotte — May 26
New Hampshire — July 14
Chicagoland — July 22
Indianapolis — July 28
Atlanta — Sept. 1
Travis Pastrana 2012 K&N Series Schedule
Bristol Motor Speedway (Bristol, Tenn) — March 17
Greenville-Pickens Speedway (Easley, S.C.) — March 31
Richmond International Raceway (Richmond, Va.) — April 26
Iowa Speedway (Newton, Ia.) — May 19
Bowman Gray Stadium (Winston-Salem, N.C.) — June 2
Langley Speedway (Hampton, Va.) — June 23
Iowa Speedway (Newton, Iowa) — Aug. 3
Greenville-Pickens Speedway (Easley, S.C.) — Sept. 3
New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Loudon, N.H.) — Sept. 22
Dover International Speedway (Dover, Dela.) — Sept. 28
Rockingham Speedway (Rockingham, N.C.) — Nov. 3