Roush Fenway Racing’s Travis Pastrana finished 17thSaturday night in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) race from Atlanta Motor Speedway, after a strong showing, that had Pastrana in the top-10 much of the night.
“I had a great car,” said Pastrana. “The first half of the race was the best of my career so far. I had an incident with Nelson Piquet that made us pit early and hurt us pretty bad. Then I made a bad call on what I needed and we fell off the pace substantially. It was the second race this year I crossed the finish line backward through the grass. But, it was fun racing [Brian] Vickers and [Elliott] Sadler at the end, even though it wasn't the position I had hoped to be battling them for.”
The NNS made the trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second night race in as many weeks. Pastrana, who led his first NNS laps at Atlanta, came into the weekend very excited, calling the track his favorite on the circuit.
Pastrana qualified 11th for the 300-mile race at the 1.5-mile track. The No. 60 settled into the top-15 for the opening green flag run of the race. When the caution came out on Lap 36, Pastrana radioed that the car was decent on the short run, but on the longer run the car was loose entering the center and tight in the center. Crew Chief Chad Norris called Pastrana into the pits for four tires and fuel as well as wedge and air pressure adjustments.
Shortly after a Lap 40 restart, Nelson Piquet bumped into the No. 60 in an effort to avoiding Kasey Kahne’s spinning car. Pastrana received slight left side damage and scraped the wall with the right side. Under the caution, Roush Fenway teammate Chris Buescher inspected the damage for Pastrana and radioed that the car looked fine. Spotter Jason Hedlesky and Norris agreed that the damage was minimal and did not require a pit stop.
The race returned to green on Lap 48, with Pastrana radioing that there was a lot of tire smoke in the cockpit. He decided to feel out the tire rub, electing not to pit. Just a few laps later, Pastrana told the crew that the car felt really good. His lap times reflected the handling, as Pastrana worked his way into the top-10.
On Lap 87 the No. 60 made its way down pit road a few laps early as Pastrana radioed that he felt a vibration. The team took four tires and fuel and made another wedge adjustment. After green flag pit stops cycled through, Pastrana was back in 10th.
On the next run, Pastrana dropped back to 15th, telling the crew that the car was tight in the center and very loose off the center. On the final lap, Pastrana found himself in 15th, while racing with Vickers. The tight racing got the No. 60 loose, with Pastrana sliding backward through the grass to cross the finish line 17th.