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Pastrana rides ups, downs in Daytona debut

NASCAR.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Even for a guy who's jumped out of an airplane without a parachute, Travis Pastrana says last Saturday's season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway was a thrill ride of its own.

In the moments after climbing out of his dinged-up brightly-colored No. 60 Ford Mustang, the X Games superstar-turned-NASCAR driver was wide-eyed and still jacked up.

He obligingly signed autographs in the garage area for the large group of fans who immediately descended upon this generation's great action hero, but judging by the look on Pastrana's face, he was still living the 120 high-adrenalin laps he'd just completed.

"Our goal was definitely to get a top-10 and don't crash the car. We're 10th and have a half-crashed car so we'll take it,'' said a grinning Pastrana, who announced Tuesday via Twitter and Facebook that he and his wife, professional skateboarder Lyn-Z Hawkins Pastrana were expecting a baby this fall.

The parents-to-be also posted a photo of a miniature Pastrana jersey numbered 199 1/2, but it probably wouldn't surprise many people if their child grows up to compete and entertain.

As an 18-year old, Pastrana did a backflip on his motorcycle into the Grand Canyon. Now, 29, he insists his first race on the 200-mph Daytona high banks ranked right up there with most other full sensory experience he's had.

And that's saying a lot.

"It seems like when you're driving that Daytona is going to be an easier track that it's like, 'Oh, it's all just dumb luck, it's whatever,'" Pastrana said. "But when you're driving (in the race), it's all about wind and that wake of air that you're trying to position yourself in and the whole time you're thinking and you can't see anything coming into the corners.

"So you're going in 195-200 miles an hour and you're three-wide and you've got people bumping you and a wall that's right next to you. And when (your spotter) says three-wide top, you've got to be right on that wall, still pushing the guy in front of you and if the guy behind you hits you, you're going to get loose. If the guy in front of you doesn't, you're going to get tight.

"The whole time you're just mentally going ? and it's like a sauna in that car.''

And Pastrana acknowledged, a completely different sensation than anything he's done on two wheels.

"It's different because with the motorcycle the prerequisite to be in freestyle is to do a 150-foot jump, so most people are like, 'wow, that's scary,'" Pastrana explained.

"The prerequisite here is to go 200 mph and most people go, 'yeah, I'll get in my car, I could probably do that.'  But when you put that on a tight course with all these people that are all so good just battling back and forth and pushing off of you. .. it's the most intense experience I could ever explain.''

In-car audio from Pastrana confirms as much.

"Wow! Did you see that? Wow!'' Pastrana screamed into the team radio seconds after a 13-car pile-up with three laps to go that sent Michael Annett's crashing car directly in front of -- only inches away -- from the front of Pastrana's Roush-Fenway Racing Mustang.

"I'll tell you what. I've never seen a car do that, I mean that 43 of Annett went from my left to my right and was gone, I didn't even see it, it was so fast,'' Pastrana said after the race, still shaking his head.

Another multi-car accident on the last lap nicked Pastrana's car, but he carried on to earn his best finish (10th) in the 10 Nationwide starts he's made over the last two seasons. And it gives him a nice starting point in the championship -- he's ranked eighth -- entering Saturday's race on Daytona's antitheses, the fickle 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.

It will be Pastrana's first time racing a car at Phoenix, but he said he left Daytona feeling more encouraged than anything.

"Sum it all up, I accomplished 50 percent of my goal,'' Pastrana said of the Daytona season-opener. "I'm not going to be happy until we win and I'm not going to be disappointed with that (10th place), especially here.''

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Pastrana and wife announced they'll be having a baby via Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday.
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