Pastrana To Take Run At Nationwide Championship
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
News and notes from the first week of 2013:
Travis Pastrana will make the move to full-time NASCAR racing in 2013, driving Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60 Ford Mustang in all 33 events on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule.
“I am extremely excited about making the move into full-time NASCAR competition in 2013 and equally thrilled to have the opportunity to make that move with Jack Roush and the team at Roush Fenway Racing,” Pastrana said.
Pastrana made a name for himself in the Action Sports arena. He was a hugely popular four-time rally champion, motocross champion and multiple X Games gold medal winner.
He dipped his toe into stock car racing in 2011 when he drove in a handful of races in the K&N Pro series. Last year, he moved up to the Camping World Truck Series and NNS, racing limited schedules.
“I am very serious about making this move, running competitively and ultimately winning races in NASCAR,” added Pastrana. “No team can claim the success in the Nationwide Series that Roush Fenway has, and I know driving an RFR Ford will provide me with the maximum opportunity to develop my skills behind the wheel of a stock car.”
Pastrana has made nine career Nationwide Series starts, including one for Roush Fenway last September at Richmond, where he qualified a career-high fifth and ran top-10 for much of the race en route to a 17th-place finish.
Pastrana will team up with veteran NASCAR crew chief Chad Norris and will be partnered with a variety of sponsors during the season.
“Travis is a champion,” said Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush. “It takes a great deal of drive and determination to reach that level of greatness in any field. He is serious about this move to NASCAR and we are committed to doing everything we can to see his career develop in NASCAR. We would certainly expect to see a great level of excitement brought to the table as he progresses within our sport.”
The No. 60 will be one of two full-time RFR Nationwide Series entries in 2013, with Pastrana being paired with Roush Fenway teammate and 2010 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne in the No. 6 Ford Mustang.
Turner Motorsports has announced that 2012 Camping World Truck Series champion James Buescher will
return to the seat of the No.31 Chevrolet Silverado, competing in a full 2013 schedule.
Buescher will also continue to run select NASCAR Nationwide Series events in 2013.
Buescher drove to four wins in the Truck Series last season. He had 10 top-fives and 14 top-10’s.
He started 20 NNS races, winning the season-opener at Daytona.
“Last season was a dream come true for me,” Buescher, a native of Texas, said. “I had always dreamt of winning a NASCAR championship. I am most excited about the opportunity to compete to become the first driver to win the NCWTS championship in back-to-back seasons. I look forward to working with the entire Turner Motorsports organization and Rheem on our quest to keep the NCWTS championship at Turner Motorsports.”
“Everyone at Turner Motorsports is excited to have James return to Turner Motorsports and the seat of the No. 31 NCWTS ride. And, to have a company like Rheem with such a long standing relationship in the sport of NASCAR come on board is an honor. To have Rheem join us is just the icing on the cake,” said Turner Motorsports team owner, Steve Turner.
JR Motorsports announced significant developments in its 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series plans, as Great Clips Inc. has signed a primary sponsorship agreement for 28 races next season. The partnership brings Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet to JR Motorsports, adding to a lineup that already includes Regan Smith, the series’ most recent winner, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
For the past two seasons, Great Clips had sponsored cars for Turner Motorsports in the NNS series.
Kahne has a long-standing relationship with Great Clips dating back to 2003 when the company served as primary sponsor for the up-and-coming driver for three seasons. The company also recently announced a sponsorship of Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports for three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2013.
JR Motorsports General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller said the organization still isn’t committing the No. 5 team to a full-season slate but continues to work at securing sponsorship to fill out the remaining six races.
“The last three months have been critical for the direction of JR Motorsports and the commitment we’ve made, and this partnership with Great Clips is a major step in the right direction,” Earnhardt Miller said. “To sign a 28-race sponsor while adding Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet to our line-up is quite extraordinary. Our goal is still to run two full-time teams, and this helps us greatly to achieve that.”
A race schedule for Kahne and Sweet in the No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet is still to be determined.
Charismatic Indianapolis 500 veteran David “Salt” Walther, died Dec. 27 in Northwood, Ohio. He was 65.
Walther, from Dayton, Ohio, made seven Indianapolis 500 starts from 1972-79, with a best finish of ninth in the rain-shortened race in 1976. But sadly he is probably best remembered for suffering major injuries in a spectacular accident at the start of the 1973 Indianapolis 500.
Walther, whose nickname “Salt” was courtesy of some pun-loving boyhood classmates who were amused by his surname, was aware of racing from his earliest memories. His father, George Walther, was a Dayton industrialist who fielded “500” cars in the 1950s and 60s for Troy Ruttman, Carl Williams, Mike Magill and others, while giving rookie tests to such notables as Johnny Rutherford, Elmer George, and most famously in 1958, five-time World Champion Juan Manual Fangio.
After a career in powerboat racing, young Salt Walther began entering USAC sprint car events in 1968. At the end of 1970, he made his USAC National Championship debut in the Sacramento 100, noteworthy for being the last “full-blown” Championship event taking place on a dirt track. Although he qualified 15th in the 18-car field, he heeded officials’ suggestion that he start last. Walther stayed in that position, eliminated by mechanical trouble after 26 laps.
In spite of finishing 11th in the second half of a twin-100 event at Rafaela, Argentina, in early 1971, officials felt Walther needed more experience before tackling the “500.” He returned in 1972 to Indianapolis, qualifying for one of the 33 starting positions at the very last minute. But his “race” lasted only a matter of yards, as he was obliged to pull off into the Turn 1 grass on the first lap due to magneto failure.
Walther persevered and enjoyed arguably his most successful season in 1972, finishing eighth in the
Pocono 500 and sixth in the Ontario 500 to rank 14th in USAC points.
He was hospitalized for several months after his terrible 1973 Indianapolis accident, and he earned considerable respect from the fans and the racing community by returning to the track in 1974 and earning another starting position in the “500.”
In 1975, the Walther team fielded a second car at Indianapolis for Bob Harkey. When Walther encountered mechanical trouble right after the start, Harkey was obliged to come in and hand over his car. Although the combination ended up 10th in the rain-shortened affair, it might well have placed as high as sixth if the decision was made to wait for the first caution period or refueling stop before making the time-consuming driver switch.
Walther had a number of impressive runs during his career, including a 12th-place finish in the 1976 Daytona 500 and a career-best fourth in the 1977 Trenton 200. He was also one of the USAC drivers who traveled to England in 1978, placing seventh at Silverstone and sixth at Brands Hatch on consecutive weekends in early October.One Comment