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Pastrana, Bayne form unlikely pairing

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Pastrana, Bayne form unlikely pairing
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Pastrana, Bayne form unlikely pairing

For every "Hey, dude" greeting that Travis Pastrana smilingly acknowledged from autograph seekers, there was a well-intended marriage proposal his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne politely and demurely declined.

After posing with Pastrana for a photo, one little boy held out his arms and started to cry, "No Mommy, I want him to come with us.''

Meanwhile, Bayne accepted a long string of "atta-boys" on his 2011 Daytona 500 win.

Such was the typical and recurring scene during two days of autograph signings and fan appearances recently at California's Auto Club Speedway -- the standard reception for Roush's Nationwide Series dynamic duo, action sports icon Pastrana and the Daytona 500 winner Bayne.

"Travis has a lot of loyal fans that aren't your typical NASCAR fans, people rocking their flat bill hats and it's cool because it brings a different demographic to the sport that they've been looking for,'' Bayne said following one afternoon autograph session in California.

"I love it,'' he continued, flashing a big grin.

"In NASCAR you connect with a lot of different people. I feel like we have a really solid fan base, too, everyone walks up and wants to talk about the Daytona 500. When they walk up to him they talk about all the crazy stunts he's pulled off, so it is totally different conversations we have.''

In between signing "Nitro Circus" memorabilia and replica Supercross jerseys for fans who followed the pair back to the garage, Pastrana interjected his take.

"Hey, Trevor's an action sports guy, too,'' Pastrana insisted. "We're both pretty goofy and generally excited to be here. We have more outgoing personalities and will talk to anybody and make a fool of ourselves, do whatever. We just want to be out there racing and having fun."

Nodding over to his teammate, Bayne added with a smile, "Some guys look like they're going to the electric chair (at the race track); we try not to do that. We try to have fun with it all."

Despite their vastly different backgrounds -- Pastrana, 29, an X Games legend who has skydived without a parachute and back-flipped his bike into the Grand Canyon, and Bayne, 22, the "boy-next-door" Cinderella winner of NASCAR's biggest race -- actually have a lot more in common than you might think.

Not only do they easily attract the largest crowd in the Nationwide Series garage area, but they are both "all-in" in their NASCAR career paths -- appropriately straight-lined by Bayne and a bit circuitous by Pastrana.

"You see this goofy guy that's always smiling and light-hearted,'' Bayne explained. "But the thing he does that kind of caught me off guard, is he'll be joking around but then you ask him a question and start talking about information, he just zones in. He shuts off the bouncing around and is just focused.

"The first time that happened, I felt like I needed to say something really interesting because I had all of his attention, you know.

"But obviously, he's got that focus because he's been successful at everything's he done.''

From the beginning, the pairing of Pastrana and Bayne is a lesson in mutual respect -- and awe.

They met on Dec. 31, 2009. Bayne was on hand to watch Pastrana successfully attempt a world record jump in a rally car as part of a Red Bull New Year promotion. A year later, Bayne became the youngest Daytona 500 winner in history. Neither feat lost on the other.

"I was  like 'Yeah, that's my guy,' " Pastrana said.

Their paths crossed again early on. Both drove briefly for Michael Waltrip Racing before becoming teammates this year at Roush Fenway -- Pastrana sponsoring his own No. 60 Ford Mustang and Bayne piloting the two-time defending series champion No. 6 Cargill Mustang.

"I've always had guidance through Trevor, he's been the guy I looked up to -- I know he's younger but he has a lot more experience," Pastrana said. "What's neat for me is, what you see is what you get with Trevor, more than most people.

"A lot of people you can't read, but he's so open even with testing. There's like no one I'd rather be at a test with. He gets out of car and says, 'Hey, how'd it go for you, what do you need?' And it's so cool to have someone on my team that not only do I look up to but also is so willing to help me."

Listening to Pastrana say that, Bayne seemed genuinely affected and humbled -- immediately offering a thank-you and a back slap.

Despite their limited time in the Nationwide Series -- this is Pastrana's first full year and the first full-time season for Bayne since 2010 -- they are both respectively ranked among the top 12 in points.

Bayne has three top-10 finishes in the past four races, including a pair of fourth-place efforts in Phoenix and Las Vegas, and is sixth in championship points entering the off-week in the schedule.

Pastrana goes into next week's race at Texas Motor Speedway ranked 12th with top-10 finishes at Daytona and Bristol.

Clearly, the unlikely pairing is making a solid run for the legendary team. 

And the more they hang together the more they rub off on one another, each bringing a unique offering to the table, behind a commitment to success.

Bayne laughs telling how his fianc�e Ashton "always wanted to be a professional skateboarder" as is Pastrana's now-pregnant wife Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins.

"Mostly she just rides the longboard around the motorhome lot,'' Bayne smilingly said of Ashton.

That may be as close as it gets -- for now.

"Travis tried to get me to go skydiving with him at Daytona, but it was too windy so I used that as my excuse,'' Bayne said shaking his head.

"The funniest thing since we've become teammates was probably at our photo shoot at Daytona when I was trying to do this fake punch thing and I could not do it.

"I looked like a goofball. It was supposed to look like I was punching him, but I hadn't really punched anyone lately. So in the picture, he's intense and I'm like smiling as I'm punching him."

Pastrana laughed recalling the day.

"The demeanor of the Roush Fenway team is very serious, so it's kinda nice to have someone else on the team that I can kinda relate to and be like, 'Hey, we're still here having a great time, but it's still more fun to win so let's work hard and figure out how to do that.'

"The second Trevor gets out of the car, he does a good job of putting that game face behind him and be like, 'Alright, I still get to drive a car for a living. This is awesome.'

"It's cool to be on a team like that."

Hearing that, Bayne chimed in, "I think everyone in the U.S. is familiar with this guy. All my friends think it's the coolest thing in the world I get to be teammates with Travis Pastrana."

"And," Pastrana said, "vice versa."

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