Travis Pastrana Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

If there was one upside to Travis Pastrana suffering a severe foot injury at this past X Games 17, it’s that he has had way more time to practice his video game skills. Not just any video game, of course.

The X Games champ is traveling with some of his “Nitro Circus” crew to Chicago to gun down virtual animals and targets at the 2011 "Big Buck" World Championships on September 24. We caught up with Pastrana, who finished in eighth place last year, to figure out if he has a shooter’s chance at adding another kind of title to his already impressive resume.

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Travis Pastrana and Video Games

Redbullusa.com: How did you get started playing “Big Buck?”

Travis Pastrana: I’m really competitive and I go these after parties and I really wasn’t into the pub scene and drinking so I’d just go play Buck Hunter. Dave Mirra was actually better than me at the game and he actually hustled me for a few thousand dollars. So then I went home, bought my own Big Buck Hunter game and I made all my money back from him and more after that.

Redbullusa.com: Last year you got bumped out by Streetbike Tommy. Are you ready for a rematch?

TP: Yeah, I’m sure we’ll face each other again and I definitely want to take Tommy down this year, that’s my main goal. It would be awesome to make the top five, but last year for both of us to make the top ten was amazing. This year, if we do that again, I’d be happy.

Redbullusa.com: Do you have any new strategies or techniques since you competed last year?

TP: I think Tommy had a good strategy of eating a lot of beans, so that might be a strategy for me this year laughs. I mean it’s hard to play against someone who smells that bad. I don’t know, maybe I won’t shower for a day or two either.

The guy that beat me last year, I swear I thought he was drunk because he reeked. I was like “This guy is going to be slow out of the gate,” but he crushed me so bad in the first round. Maybe he wasn’t drunk, maybe he just poured alcohol all over himself, I don’t really know.

I mean it’s hard to play against someone who smells that bad.

Redbullusa.com: This is a bar game and there's a sort of drinking culture to go along with it. Will you be boozing for the tournament?

TP: I don’t think drinking helps, that’s for sure. For the finals they had an open bar and I think for a lot of guys it didn’t help. We had one guy on our team that clearly after one drink was pretty useless at playing. You know, we gotta keep it professional and try to bring our A-game. We’ll probably have some Red Bull with us because we’ll be running on little to no sleep. It’s all part of the fun.

Redbullusa.com: How much are you practicing for this tournament?

TP: Well, I’ve been injured this past year and I still can’t stand up, so I’ll have to see if I can play without crutches, otherwise I might have to drag a La-Z-Boy into the local pub or lay down and play the whole time, so I’m hoping this ankle will feel a little bit better soon.

Basically, I shattered my ankle and I had surgery on it and I have eight screws, one plate, four pins and a bunch of wire holding the whole thing together, so I can’t walk on it. I actually think the injury has made me better at Big Buck Hunter because instead of doing my regular training, I’ve just been playing Big Buck so… laughs.

Redbullusa.com: People might say, you compete in thrilling sports like motocross and rally racing, so why a video game?

TP: I’m competitive and it’s something to do in the after hours, you get done racing motorcycles and cars and go-karts and you go have a drink and do something that anyone else can do. It’s at a lot of places you can go for after hours and it’s a lot of fun.

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Redbullusa.com: Does your experience competing in the X Games give you an edge at all?

TP: I don’t think so. But never underestimate the tenacity of an injured or offseason athlete. Anyone who has ever been to the top of any sport professionally is probably very, very competitive.

Redbullusa.com: Have you hunted or shot guns in real life before?

TP: I’ve been shooting before but never been hunting. It’s funny though because I ended up winning three of five rounds against guys that normally skeet shoot and they’re like “Wow, how did you get so good at shooting?” and I’m like “Big Buck Hunter.” It’s pretty funny. It seems like shooting games and driving simulators seem to translate to the real thing in some ways. Not so much with motorcycles but…

I’m getting married in October so it’s kind of my bachelor party.

Redbullusa.com: What’s this road trip to Chicago going to be like?

TP: We have a lot more people this year that qualified so we’re going to have more people coming out. I’m getting married in October so it’s kind of my bachelor party. Basically the road trip, we’re renting a motor home and Red Bull is providing the bus again. We’re going to have like 30 people coming. So, we’re going to have one party bus and a place to sleep, so it should be a lot of fun.

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Follow Ryan Smith on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter

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