The long-awaited arrival in NASCAR of X Games driver and stunt performer Travis Pastrana will finally happen this weekend when he attempts to quality the #99 car for the Nationwide Series Kroger 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
At the same weekend, former NASCAR regular Scott Speed will return to Cup competition for the Brickyard 400 at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway driving the #37 Max Q Motorsports Ford Fusion in the first of three confirmed races.
Speed will also race at the following Cup events at Pocono and Watkins Glen, where his F1 road course experience will come in very handy, and there are "hopes of [Speed] continuing the rest of the 2011 season pending sponsorship" according to the press release making the announcement from Max Q Motorsports.
"I am excited to get back to the track," said Speed, who has 76 Cup starts to his name before an acrimonious split with Red Bull left him without a berth for 2011. "I'm hopeful that we can get the ball rolling quickly and be competitive out the gate."
But as well known and popular as Speed is in the US, he pales into insignificance compared with the arrival on the scene of superstar daredevil Travis Pastrana, who is bidding to make his national-level NASCAR début in the Kroger 200 after some test appearances at sub-national level in January's Toyota All-Star Race and last week's K&N Pro Series East event. Pastrana will be jetting in overnight Friday from Los Angeles, where he is competing in the X Games. He'll fly right back out straight after the Kroger 200 finishes.
Pastrana's NASCAR appearance could prove to be a disappointment, or even an embarrassment, but that's not going to stop a man who seemingly genuinely knows no fear. "Let's shoot for the moon," Pastrana said: "At worst, we're a shooting star."
But he did admit that he was finding driving a Nationwide car rather more difficult than he had expected. "There's a lot of different ways to drive in a circle and I'm still trying to find the fast way ... Honestly, judging off of the K&N races, we're going to be mid- to back of the pack," he said. "If we get a top-20, I shouldn't say I'd be happy because no driver is ever happy unless they are on top of the podium, but that would be really good for us.
"I want to learn something every race," he continued. "I want to make improvements every race. Even if those improvements aren't in the results, I want to be as competitive as we possibly can be with the experience we have."
Pastrana revealed that he had sought reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson's advice on what so do. "He said, 'Look, I could tell you a lot of stuff, but the bottom line is seat time.'"