Travis Pastrana has announced he will make his return to the NASCAR circuit on Saturday at the Widow Wax 125, the season opener of the K&N Pro Series East at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. He also announced his commitment to a full 2012 racing schedule in the NASCAR K&N Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He'll make his Nationwide debut April 17 at the Richmond 250 at Richmond International Speedway in Richmond, Va.
Pastrana's crash in the X Games 17 Moto X Best Trick competition last summer put the brakes on the much-hyped "Pastranathon" -- a gruelling combination of freestyle motocross, rally car, and NASCAR events that the 11-time X Games medalist had planned to compete in -- and forced him to postpone his much-anticipated Nationwide debut.
"This has been the longest recovery time I have ever had for an injury," Pastrana said on Saturday, in a statement posted on the Pastrana 199 Racing website. "I figured it was just an ankle so it didn't seem like that big of a deal. However, once I got into surgery they realized they couldn't hook any of the small bones in the foot to anything else. I had 40 fractures in there. It's taken a while but it's kind of fusing together nicely now. I am 100 percent ready to get back in the race car. I have a little limp, but that won't affect my driving."
Pastrana got behind the wheel at Bristol Motor Speedway for a test in February, and has been training with coach Matt Craftn. Crew chief Mike Greci will run Pastrana's pit box, Pastrana says he's ready to be back in action now that all the pieces are in place, in his ankle and in his racing team.
"Oh man, this place is just spectacular," Pastrana said after the test at Bristol Motor Speedway's short track. "I've seen it on TV but that doesn't give you the real feel. The banking itself is hard to believe but it's the way the seats are, so many of them all around the stadium. It's just awesome. It really is like a modern-day Colosseum where gladiators fight. I'm not used to the banking … it's a little like a vertical ramp. It's going to be a challenge. This is a tough place for my first race this year, but I can't wait to get back here for the race."
Pastrana also announced that he'll be racing under the Pastrana 199 Racing name in 2012; in 2011 he had planned to race under a Pastrana Waltrip Racing banner. He will continue to have a "a technical alliance with Michael Waltrip Racing supplying personnel and equipment," according his website.
Although Pastrana's a proven winner in freestyle motocross and rally car racing, he's still a largely unknown quantity in NASCAR racing, with just three K&N Pro Series East races, one K&N Pro Series West race, and one Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race under his belt, all in 2011. He's scheduled to race in 11 events in the K&N series between now and November, including this weekend's race at Bristol and the March 31 race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, as well as seven Nationwide Series events.