Travis Pastrana earned his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) pole at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, but finished 36thin the Aaron’s 312 after a mid-race accident took the No. 60 Ford Mustang out of contention.
“I practiced with the 43 car and we had a strategy to stay in the back,” Pastrana said. “I don’t know what happened, but we were up there in the front and got tangled up in someone else’s mess. I just want to thank Jack Roush and all the team for giving me a great car out there. I think we definitely could have put it on top if we just had a little more patience.”
Both Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) Ford Mustangs were strong in each of Thursday’s two practice sessions. On Friday, Pastrana set the fastest lap, earning his first NNS pole and car owner Jack Roush’s first pole in the Nationwide Series at Talladega Superspeedway.
Saturday morning brought lots of rain, delaying the start of the race until nearly 5:00 p.m. CT. Pastrana decided before the race that after leading a lap he would drop to the rear of the field in an effort to avoid the multi-car accidents that restrictor plate racing is known for.
At the drop of the green, Pastrana led his first laps in NASCAR competition, holding the point for the opening four laps around the 2.66-mile superspeedway. After that Pastrana dropped to the back of the pack, according to his plan.
The No. 60 team took the first opportunity to pit under caution on Lap 15 for right side tires and fuel. Pastrana reported that he was very happy with the handling of the car. On the restart, Pastrana continued to ride in the top-20, biding his time and ticking off laps.
Crew Chief Chad Norris called Pastrana back down pit road under caution on Lap 36, pitting for left side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted 12th, but began to make his way to the front of the pack in his No. 60 Ford Mustang, climbing all the way to second by Lap 59.
On Lap 73, while running in the top-10, Pastrana was involved in an accident. The damage was severe enough to end the day for the No. 60 team.
“We had a great car and could have met up with him [Trevor Bayne] later, but I didn’t stick to the strategy and that’s why I’m being hard on myself,” said Pastrana. “Much thanks to the crew. Everybody worked really hard. I learned a lot about drafting. I learned a lot about racing these restrictor plate races.”
Regan Smith took the checkered flag in a wild finish, while NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch rounded put the top-four. Justin Allgaier finished fifth, while RFR teammate Trevor Bayne finished 28th after his No. 6 Ford Mustang was involved in an accident.