Texas Motor Speedway Media Day Transcripts - Part 2 (Travis Pastrana & James Buescher)
Q: Tell us a little bit about this year, the Nationwide Series and the full-time ride.
A: Just so excited this year. Last year was cool, kind of got my feet wet a little bit. The year before I had done some K&N stuff, but had that big ankle injury. Last year was cool because I got to really experience some different type of tracks. Got to race the mile-and-half and realized just how much more difficult they were than I ever imagined. At Charlotte we were laughing at one of the guys in the truck race that spun three times and sure enough, next week in the Nationwide I was around backwards and on the third time, I was like 'Oh man, I'm that guy.' I'm just trying to avoid being that guy too often this year, but definitely learning from every mistake. What's awesome about being on the Roush Fenway Racing program this year, I've got so many guys to learn from. Trevor Bayne, every test we've gone to, he's laid down his computer with what they've got from his car and my stuff from my car and just gone over everything, every little difference. What he's doing, why he's breaking harder, easier, longer, or whatever. (Ricky) Stenhouse, in between every Cup practice he's been over helping me and watching what I'm doing and watching what the other guys are doing. I couldn't be with a better crew.
Q: These guys are fans of yours, aren't they? They're just 22-year-old kids.
A: That's what's really neat about (Trevor) Bayne and (Ricky) Stenhouse. They know a lot about action sports. And actually, I just found out today we were doing the first penguin race together. So that was pretty cool.
Q: You have to learn a lot of new venues this year. The Nationwide Series is going to Mid-Ohio for the first time. Have you ever raced on their track?
A: Actually, I haven't raced a lot of road course stuff. I've done a lot of Rally cars, but this will be my first time going to Mid-Ohio. I've been practicing it on the iRacing. It's pretty funny because I wasn't exactly sure what configuration they were running for Mid-Ohio so I sent a text to Trevor (Bayne). About 10 minutes later, he sends me back a video of him and said, 'Beat that time!' It's pretty funny that now it's a new age where you can practice and learn. You can't get in the car all the time, but to learn the courses, you can really do it on video games now.
Q: Do you think you'll go to any kind of road school before that time?
A: Definitely. It's been a little difficult this year, but I'm planning on going to every road course before we go there and finding someone to help me. I know a lot of drivers that are tire testers and a lot of my friends in Rally actually work at a lot of these different schools and different tracks. So I do have a lot of friends in different areas that will hopefully give me some help, as well as the Roush Fenway crew. Having said that, I do have a lot of Rally testing and schedules so usually when they have an off-weekend they'll go and do those tests. I'm really trying to drop as much as I can to do that, but still fulfill my contractual obligations to do the best I can in Rally as well.
Q: How tough has the transition been at each level in a new car every time?
A: Without a doubt, it's been extremely tough. I knew it was going to be tough and I didn't expect to necessarily be doing any better than I am now. But when you look it from a distance, you don't know why it's going to be tough. You know that to be the best at anything, it takes a lot of work. I always looked a NASCAR track and be like, "Okay, it's two turns." In motocross, I won't even walk the track, but after one lap, I know the 25 corners, the jumps, the lines. I've got it memorized and I'm good just because that's what I do and that's what I'm used to. In Rally, you never hit the same corner twice, so you better be spot-on the first time. Now you have all this practice, hours and hours of practice and all this time and it's just two corners. They say Turn 1, 2, 3, and 4, but really, it's just two turns. And yet, I've found it more challenging and difficult to get fast on those turns because you can't just be good, you have to be perfect. It's the best in the world, with the most knowledge in the world and the best teams in the world. All of a sudden, you're fighting for thousandths of seconds. It's no longer like, 'Oh we gave up two seconds in that corner, but I gained three in that corner.' You might lose two seconds in a corner, but you're not going to gain it.
Q: Are you easily discouraged?
A: No, if I was easily discouraged I wouldn't be where I am now. That's for sure. I enjoy challenges. Nothing has really come easy, but if it comes easy, that's why I jump on to the next challenge. This is my first full season, but really I've been in it for three years now and we've yet to win a race. For me, this is the biggest challenge I've ever had.
Q: Where did your paint scheme come from?
A: I said 80's rock, so be careful with what you ask for. What's cool about it, I said, 'Look, I want to stand out.' Last year, we had a really cool detailed paint scheme, but from a distance it just looked black with some grey. So my dad, he said, 'I can't see, if I look up for a second, I have to go find Danica's bright green car and figure out where you are compared to her.' So that's the theory, we've been bright and stood out in everything else we've done, let's do it. When everyone makes fun of me, I say, 'Well everything looks good up front, so that's the motivation to get it up there.'
Q: Talk about the fans. You've been in a lot of sports and now in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Do you see a lot of your fans traveling with you to NASCAR from the other sports you've taken part in?
A: Without a doubt. It's an interesting thing because I can have this many views on my social media or this and that, but I feel like there's a lot of critics as well. Just because there are a lot of people following, doesn't mean that everyone's supporting you. I think for me, there are a lot of people that are like "yeah, let's do it man! This is awesome." I was actually eating at Subway the other day and a dad came up and said, 'Man it's just so cool because my son never watched NASCAR and I didn't understand all these action sports. It's cool because now I have something I can do with him.' There are a lot of people that are on the fence for both, but I think if I can do well, there will be a lot of crossover in both directions. If I don't do well, there will be a lot of I-Told-You-So's and that won't do a doggone bit of good. When people ask if I'm worried about bringing the fans over, I say kind of, but really all that entails for me is trying to do the best that I can.
Q: Did you have name recognition when you first walked in the garage?
A: I had name recognition from all the drivers because most of the drivers, even Jimmie Johnson, grew up racing motocross. He and Jeff Gordon usually go to Las Vegas and the supercross finals and stuff. I knew most of these guys. Even Carl Edwards and I were on a team - and Jimmie Johnson and I were on a team actually for Race Champions because that was through Rally car. I definitely had a lot of friends in the pits, Brian Vickers was with Red Bull. It's been awesome that I've had a lot of people I can lean on. And now, especially with Roush Fenway and having true teammates, it's really like a family.
Q: They knew your name when you walked in, right?
A: Yeah and it's been good, but there are a lot of fans. It's amazing how much the action sports don't cross over to the NASCAR fans. In action sports, supercross and monster trucks, I can't walk anywhere. I mean I better put on a hat or wig and everything if I just want to see practice or watch anything. I can walk right through the pits at NASCAR. I don't know if that's necessarily good or bad for me. It's nice and I enjoy it because I can actually go out in the stands and watch practice and learn from the Cup, but as a sponsor perspective, I still have a blank hood so maybe I got to convert some more over.
Q: What's been your best and worst experience on the track?
A: Best experience on the track, honestly was probably in the K&N Series racing Langley with Chase Elliott and Brett Moffitt and those guys. We qualified bad, worked our way up to the front, crashed with Chase, went all the way to the back, worked our way, both of us, all the way to the front and then I had another problem went back and then again to the front. That was kind of a fun race, but I'd have to say the coolest moment was midway through the race in Daytona. Dale Jr., (Brad) Keselowski, and (Sam) Hornish Jr. were the three that were around me. I was like, 'Can you believe this' and my crew chief came on and was like, 'Alright, well you still got to beat them.' I'm like 'yeah, yeah no I want to beat them, I'm just saying it's really an honor for me to be here. I'll be honored more if I can be in front of them! I'm not saying I'm not going to race them.'
Q: The Rally series that came here last year, do you think that was positive overall amongst the series? Would they like to come back?
A: They definitely would like to come back. Our organization, not to throw anyone under the bus, but it was the first year for GRC (Global Rallycross Championship) and it was the most unorganized series ever, especially at the beginning of the season. Texas Motor Speedway did a great job. The jump that GRC promised would be there, wasn't made. Eddie (Gossage) and these guys had to go bust their butt and build a jump the day of the event! I broke my car in half trying to jump what ended up being built. It was tough, but they really got their stuff together. They switched the organization's sanctioning body. With the cars that they have and the fans that are already here for NASCAR, with the jumping and turning and all the WRC guys that are coming into that series this year, and being in three X Games this year, this series is going to blow up. There's no doubt. It's difficult to know how good it could've been when you're hoping for good racing and everyone's just trying to make it around the track without breaking their stuff. It's entertaining, but it's not racing. So I really think this year is a make-or-break year and I think it's going to make it and things are going to be good. And I hope to see it back here. I know the dates didn't fall in place this year, but I hope to see it back here next year.
Q: How did your whole deal come together with Roush?
A: Really, a long string of things. With (Michael) Waltrip, those guys were great, but we just had some sponsor conflicts. I ended up driving the rest of the season for RAB which was a great organization, but I just didn't have - like it would've been a great organization if I knew what I was doing. I don't mean that like I'm completely clueless, I know how to drive a car. I feel like I can drive a car very well. If we went to test and if I was by myself, I'm looking at lap times and going like, 'I don't feel like anyone could possibly drive faster than this.' I had no idea what I needed to do to improve. Now with Trevor (Bayne), everywhere we go, I've got comparison. Dead on, I know where I'm faster, where I'm slower, and where I need to work on. The first test I was three-tenths off and last week I was 0.15 (seconds) off. I know Trevor is not the staple, but for me to have someone to constantly know where he is and (Ricky) Stenhouse, to have him come down and help me in between each practice. I have so much knowledge around me. Even the sheets of paperwork I'm given before every race to study say Trevor was a little bit tight in practice and then raced well, or was a little loose in practice and then raced well, or he was perfect in practice and then raced horrible. I know what I want the car to do in practice instead of going, 'Hey guys that felt pretty good,' and then get to the race and be completely different.
Q: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
A: Craziest thing I've done is gotten married and the craziest thing I'm doing is having a kid. No, not being in control scares me and being responsible for somebody else's life. I think that's the scariest thing in Nitro Circus that we do is when we have a passenger, or in Rally when you have a co-driver. Knowing that person trusts their life with you and you trust your life with them. There are consequences that are greater. It's easier to go, 'Yeah, I'm going to try this,' when you know it's just you.
Q: Steve Turner, I remember talking to him and his emphasis was definitely on the truck series and the Nationwide, and he really had no ambition in going into Sprint Cup. Now that we have Harry Scott Jr. on board, has that changed? Are they going to try to go to the Sprint Cup level? Can you give us some insight on how that's going to play out?
A: I don't run the team. I don't know. I just drive. Right now they're just a truck and nationwide team; and they went down and got some K&N teams. It doesn't seem like they're going up right now. I think they're focused on helping the young drivers. You see that with how many truck series drivers we have. We have three full-time truck series guys, three full-time nationwide guys and some other guys mixed in there too. You know (Ryan) Truex ran Daytona with us in the fourth truck, and the K&N (Pro Series) East shop we've got going on has some good talent coming up the pipeline too and that's new for this year. So Turner Scott Motorsports has a lot going on in the UARA Late Model team there as well. They're putting more of an emphasis on the developmental series and the up-and-coming drivers. If you look at our roster of drivers, how many drivers do you see on it? There's not very many. It's cool to see them want to - they want to be successful in NASCAR and they want to win races and championships. They want to deal with people that they feel that they earn it with them. They don't just go get somebody that's done it before and plug them into this new race team and they go win championships - well that person's won them before. To win championships in races, with myself and Nelson (Piquet Jr.) winning his first races last year and for (Justin) Allgaier to win races - it's not like a team that goes and gets a Cup driver to run Saturday and on Friday to try to get them to Victory Lane. We're building an organization and really building drivers and I'm excited to be a part of a team that wants to do that and doesn't just want the spotlight of having a series veteran come in and just immediate spotlight shine on them. I mean you got to earn it.
Q: I know the truck series is the learning step, it's my favorite series by far, it's the most competitive series and to me puts on the best show. What do you think as a driver in the truck series, that the other series could look at in order to... (be more exciting)?
A: Trucks are exciting. More of the reason for me to stay. I want to do what I'm doing because I want to do it and I don't want to move up because somebody else wants me to or I want to say I'm a Nationwide driver or Sprint Cup driver. I want to just have fun. I want to enjoy what I'm doing, otherwise I wouldn't travel every week of the year and do everything that comes along with racing. The racing is the fun part and the truck series is a lot of fun. It's a blast. I don't know what it is about it - the downforce that's on those trucks makes it to where you can race side by side. They're just on edge all the way around on all these race tracks. Maybe it's the shorter races, we have less time to get it done and we feel the pressure of the shorter races. Maybe there's the same amount or more action packed into a tighter time frame because they are shorter. It creates a lot of excitement. The competition level is up there. There were 22 races last year and 16 different winners, so the competition level is pretty stout in the truck series; and I think it's going to be stronger this year. I think there's more talent in the garage and more teams that are strong teams. So it's changed a lot from where it was a couple of years ago.
Q: How frustrating now is it to start at Daytona and have to wait two months or so in order to get another race going in April?
A: It's frustrating but at the same time you can't build a lot of momentum off of Daytona. It's better than if we would have ran three or four races and then had five weeks off. I think that having just Daytona and having five weeks off - if you have to have five weeks off - is the way to do it. I prefer racing every weekend but I think where the break is, is somewhat okay, if we have to have it - because you can't build momentum off of Daytona, typically. It's just a different animal compared to all of these other racetracks that we go to. It fits in where it has to I guess.
Q: What's going to happen when you put these things on dirt?
A: I have no idea. I don't know what's going to happen on the dirt. I'm not a dirt racer. I've raced here at the dirt track one time at Texas Motor Speedway. I've raced two ARCA races on dirt. Other than that I've been strictly asphalt. I don't know what to expect, especially with a heavier vehicle. Most dirt cars are half or a third of the weight of what a truck series truck is. It's something interesting. I don't think it's going to be sliding completely sideways through the corners but you're going to have to drive a loose truck and try not to burn the right rear tire off of it. I'd imagine that they'll keep it somewhat dry-slick for track conditions. I'm just curious to see what the race format is going to be played out to be because they haven't announced that yet, but I know there's a lot of hype for it and a lot of people are excited about it. So hopefully we stay true to the truck series reputation and put on a great show.
Q: Is there any kind of testing schedule for the race at Eldora Speedway?
A: I haven't heard what the testing schedule is for the dirt race but typically when we go to a new track or a new surface, we get a test day the day before so I'd imagine we'll get some kind of extra track time like we do any time we go to a new surface.
Q: I know Richard Childress when his grandson's aren't in the truck, they take him to a local dirt track and run a modified or a limited modified, or whatever. Have you ever thought about doing that?
A: I think the Dillon's go and race dirt on their off weekends because they grew up racing dirt and they enjoy doing it and they have a background in it, and they have a team of cars to do it with. I grew up on asphalt so if I was to race on my off weekends it'd probably be in an asphalt late model or something like that. The guys that race on the side of their racing career typically race what they raced growing up because they want to go back to what they used to do. That's probably why they go race dirt and that's probably why Clint Bowyer has dirt teams and Kyle Busch has asphalt teams. It's just where you came from is what you go do for fun on the weekends.
Q: You don't have an obsession with climbing the ladder, so to speak, like everyone thinks you have?
A: What's the rush? I'm only 22. Like I said, I want to race because I want to race and I want to have fun doing it. If I want to move up and hurry and climb the ladder to the Cup Series and not succeed, that's no fun. That's not what I want to do. I just want to enjoy myself while I'm doing it. Whatever is supposed to happen is going to happen. I'm just trying to have fun while I'm doing it.
Q: Nothing wrong with collecting championships right?
A: Yeah. It's more fun to be winning. I do want to move up because I want the challenge, but to have everything align itself correctly. Right now everything's in line for me to stay in the truck series and maybe move up to the nationwide next year. You don't know but as long as I'm having fun, I'm going to keep doing it.
Q: Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) said there's a real benefit getting in extra years.
A: Absolutely. You look at (Ricky) Stenhouse as a great example. He won the championship in 2011, but the race car driver that he is now and the person he is now after his second championship is night and day from where he was at the end of 2011. Experience is everything. He was saying Travis (Pastrana), all he needs is experience. All you do need is experience so the more experience you can have at winning, the better shot you have at winning when you move up - is the way I look at it. If you're accustomed to winning races in a series you're in, because you've done it so much. When you move up it's going to happen faster. Hopefully that happens for me.
Q: Did the Nationwide finish at Daytona remind you of the finish from the year before?
A: Unfortunately a little bit. Difference was, I was in the race the year before so watching it on my couch was quite a bit different. It's unfortunate that the races are ending like that. Some of it - I'd say a lot of it - has to do with the two-car tandem because you didn't see a truck race end like that, you didn't see a Cup race end like that, and you can't really do the tandem in either one of those. So for them to end like that two years in a row is unfortunate and tears up a lot of equipment, and costs teams a lot of money. Some fans like to see the wrecks but I don't think anyone likes to see them that bad.
Q: I know coming up in the series you have to respect those that are out but now the respect is on you. The attention is on you. Has it changed you at all?
A: There's definitely a lot more media obligations and a lot more attention but I don't think it changes my approaches to the races. I had a couple of years under my belt before I won the championship last year and I'd say it's nothing but confidence this year. I had confidence last year knowing we could go win a championship. We finished third the year before having missed a race so I knew that we had a team capable of doing it. I know we do this year as well. It's just we have to go follow through like we did last year. I don't walk around the garage saying I'm the champion you guys have to bow down to me. I don't do any of that. Somebody asked me at Daytona where my championship ring was and I said I left it at home. That was last year. It's a new year, we got to start over. I try to forget about that and act as if I've never done it before because that'll give me the drive to want to get it done that much more.
Q: How do you define that, to do it with just one race?
A: I'm not that kind of guy.
Q: The way the championship came down last year - it literally came down to the last laps - when did they tell you that you became the champion? What was your reaction?
A: I knew where we had to finish to guarantee ourselves a championship and I knew where we were at on the racetrack at all times. Yeah I came down to a couple of laps to go, it looked like it was going to go either way, but everybody was saying I was one point away and that was to get a tie, and we had a tie breaker. We won more races, so it was really two points at the best position and we were moving forward at the same time, we were just further back in the pack so we did what we had to do, we knew where we had to race at, at Homestead. It was unfortunate that we went into Homestead that tight. At the end of Phoenix race, it looked like we were going to have the same gap as the cup and nationwide series had going into Homestead, and we blew out our right front tire with three laps to go. Things can change that quickly and you have to be prepared to overcome things that get thrown at you, and that's what we did. We were the team that was able to overcome a lot of things. In 2011 we overcame missing a race to finish in third in the championship. In 2012 we overcame a lot. Chicago's a great example. We were two laps down changing a carburetor and we came back and won the race. In Martinsville with three races to go, we were a lap down and halfway through the race and came back and finished sixth. It's days like those we could have thrown in the towel and just rode it out, and went to the checkered flag, but we worked hard until the checkered flag flew and earned the championship.
Q: Do you want to win that trophy - that basketball trophy?
A: I'm not very good at basketball but it's a pretty cool trophy so we'll see what I can do. I know Travis (Pastrana) has like a messed up shoulder, I can't imagine why so I hope I'm not worse than him.