So how’d Travis Pastrana do?
He finished, which was one of his goals entering Friday night's race at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia -- his first-ever race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The two other goals, finishing on the lead lap and beating the only two female drivers in the series -- Danica Patrick and Johanna Long -- he just missed. He had been running ahead of them, in a solid 17th position. But after speeding down pit row he incurred a drive-through penalty that dropped him down to 22nd, where he finished respectably.
Kurt Busch won the race, fending off Denny Hamlin down the stretch, but if there was such a thing as a big deal in the Nationwide Series this year, Travis's debut would be it. It came a year late -- due to an ankle injury last year -- and while he says the long delay helped wipe away some of the hype, you were not likely to notice.
"It was my first pit under green. I definitely got a little excited." --Travis Pastrana
Throughout the race, Travis maintained a sense of humor -- joking, "Hey, I'm now ahead of both girls in the race!" when he was running ahead of Patrick and Long -- while driving with a sense of purpose. At one point, he even passed Brad Keselowski, winner of the 2010 Nationwide Series, which he pointed out in a post-race interview as the highlight of his race.
As for the lowlight?
"I think the lowlight was actually having to go through pit row twice," Travis said, referring to the penalty. "It was my first pit under green. I definitely got a little excited. I expected to do worse; I had hoped to do better.”
He's confident that he can run in the top 20 this year, and maybe even higher.
“It won’t be this year that we’re winning, but maybe this year will be top 15," Travis said. "Maybe next year we’re going to be top 5s and hopefully we’ll go for wins the year after that. I’m on the long-term program and hopefully the sponsors stick with me.”
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