SBD/April 27, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

X Games Star Pastrana Will Make His NASCAR Debut At Richmond Nationwide Race

Pastrana expected to help NASCAR grow its fan base in the 18-34 demographic
NASCAR "needs [Travis] Pastrana to succeed" as he "attracts that 18- to 34-year-old demographic that the sport struggles to reach," according to David Newton of ESPN.com. The action sports star will make his NASCAR debut Friday at the Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Int'l Raceway after "his initial debut was delayed in July when he suffered a broken ankle in a motorcycle fall at the X Games." Newton noted the driver "is as serious about this as anything he has done before." Pastrana said, "Anyone that has been at the top of any sport knows what it takes to get there. I'm willing to put in that work." Pastrana is "the guy who could get the middle-aged father and 16-year-old skateboard son in front of the television to watch a race together." He could be "bigger than Danica Patrick," or he could "be a complete flop." Newton: "But one thing is for sure, Pastrana knows how to sell the sport." Adding Pastrana to the mix in a Nationwide Series that "already has a boost from Patrick and fewer full-time Cup drivers can't help but be a plus for the entire sport." NASCAR Senior VP & CMO Steve Phelps said, "His presence brings his legions of action sports fans to us, helping us grow our fan base now and in the future." Driver Denny Hamlin said Pastrana is "a 'breath of fresh air' type of guy." Hamlin: "He's outgoing. He's obviously not afraid to take chances. Whether it's going to be the big media buzz that Danica brought to the sport, I doubt, but it's overall good for our sport to have someone like him in it" (ESPN.com, 4/26).

START LOW, AIM HIGH: The AP's Hank Kurz Jr. noted while Pastrana is "the winner of 11 X Games gold medals, he has no illusions of instant success in NASCAR." Pastrana's schedule "includes seven races," and his next scheduled race is the May 11 VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway. Driver Jimmie Johnson said, "He's an amazing guy with a huge fan base, and it's going to be good for NASCAR" (AP, 4/26). SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote, "With six NASCAR regional races under his belt, Pastrana has had a tough start to his stock-car career." Pastrana said, "It's just a matter of getting out there, not getting in trouble, but still trying to be aggressive." Pockrass noted with Pastrana's injury, his sponsors "didn't want to commit to 20 races" in '12 and they "opted for seven with the idea of possibly backing Pastrana for more races if he is healthy" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/26).
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