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Pastrana’s Drive For Pride Not Going Well

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 24 2012

Travis Pastrana not getting good reviews from his buddies. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

CONCORD, N.C. – By most measures, Travis Pastrana’s entry into NASCAR’s Nationwide Series has been pretty positive. But by one measure – how much crap he’s taken from his friends – that entry has been a bit of a bummer.

The crap the action sports star has been issued has come courtesy of his X-Games peers and buddies. Seems it’s not where he is finishing that is causing the problem, but who he’s finishing behind; Danica Patrick and Johanna Long.

“I probably get about 20 texts from all my friends every time,” said Pastrana, who, on Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, will start his fourth race of the season. “There’s been at least one girl that’s beaten me at every round so far. Definitely, I haven’t heard the end of it.”

Pastrana’s first start came at Richmond. He qualified 25th and finished 22nd, two laps down. He qualified 25th again at tough old Darlington and finished 17th and on the lead lap. At Iowa last week, he qualifed 15th and finished 26th.

Things, crap from friends aside, are going according to plan.

“We’re not far off where we want to be,” Pastrana said Thursday, “but I’d really like to get up there, get a little quicker, get qualified a little better – this last weekend we qualified better than we did the first two weekends. Definitely a goal is always to avoid criticism from my friends, but there’s a lot of really good drivers. Danica (Patrick), as much as people give her a hard time or this and that, she’s better than I am, so I’m working on it.”

Over in the Wood Brothers Racing garage, the name of Leonard Wood had not yet made its way onto the No. 21 car or hauler the day after he had been elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

It will, however, current team co-owner Len Wood said.

“It takes about two months to get the decals made,” Len said. “It’s supposed to happen, we hope, by Indianapolis.”

Already on the car is the name of Glen Wood, who was voted into the Hall a year ago.

During last weekend’s All-Star Race, Ford engines took a beating. Two failed. And that was in short runs in a multi-segment race.

Does that bode ominously for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the season? Not really, Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver Greg Biffle said Thursday.

The engines in the All-Star exhibition-race cars were being used for research and development purposes, he said. The engines in the Ford cars on Sunday will be loaded for a long race on a high-revving track.

“The bottom end failed,” Biffle said of his troubles. “The oil pressure was low and, obviously, there were trying new parts or pieces and I kind of applaud the engine shop for the effort they put in and to take advantage of a non-points race to implement what you would obviously call experimental parts or something to that effect.

“They had the guts to bring a piece to the race track that was on the edge and made a lot of power and they found out that it didn’t have the durability, so I think that’s what the All-Star is about is going 100 percent. Whether it’s the driver or the engine builder or the guys putting the cars together, it’s all about winning and that’s what they went for, and that has no impact on our regular engines for the season. That was experimental stuff, things they were trying, and obviously it’s back to the drawing board. They don’t get a lot of opportunity to do that.”

For the time being, the Memorial Day weekend double is over. For drivers, that is. But not for owners.

On Sunday, both Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi will have a shot at winning both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 as owners.

How big of a deal would it be to do the owner double? Brad Keselowski, who drives a Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series for Penske, said pretty big.

“The month of May is certainly a big month for Penske Racing,” Keselowski said. “Obviously they’re having a lot of success over there at the Brickyard (this month) and that’s great to see and really important for Roger. But we want to have a lot of success over here, too. I don’t know if anyone has ever pulled off the weekend sweep.

“I think we’ve got a shot at it for sure. I know how much it would mean for Roger to be able to pull that off. It takes a lot of time out of Roger’s schedule but he clears time on his schedule this month to make sure he can be part of it all. And it was great to see him fly out Saturday for the All-Star Race after qualifying (and winning the pole) over there at the Brickyard. I think that just shows that he cares about both programs.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 24 2012
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