IndyCar: Travis Pastrana to attempt entry in $5 million season finale in Las Vegas

Travis Pastrana LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC
Travis Pastrana could be a guest driver in the October season finale for the Izod IndyCar Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Published on 7/21/2011

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X Games legend, rally racer and extreme-sports wildman Travis Pastrana wants a shot at driving an Indy car. The chance to win the $5 million bonus the Izod IndyCar Series is offering for the season finale in October at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is, well, just a bonus.

Pastrana, who turns 28 in October, has agreed to participate in IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard's challenge at Las Vegas, although the first step is to test a car. Pastrana said he understands that the stakes are too high to mess around with an open-wheel race car on an oval. If the driver is not comfortable in the car during testing, he said he won't participate in the Oct. 15-16 event.

“I just told them I would be honored with the opportunity and that I think we can find a way to make it happen,” Pastrana said of talks with IndyCar officials.

A test has not yet been scheduled. Pastrana said he has talked to a couple of teams about running for them.

IndyCar is remaining mum on the subject of driver selection for the event, where, if Bernard gets his way, five drivers from outside IndyCar's regular lineup will make guest appearances. If one of them somehow manages to win the race, he or she also takes home $5 million. A committee is reviewing applications, but the series boss has acknowledged interest in Pastrana, who is enormously popular with the “Red Bull generation” that is key to IndyCar's future growth.

Bernard recently said that 26 professional drivers have inquired about the five available starting spots in Vegas, but none of them has been approved, and there are no IndyCar teams lined up to field them.

Pastrana, a four-time Rally America champion who will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut next weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway outside Indianapolis, said he wants to get through that stock-car race and other business-related endeavors before focusing on the IndyCar opportunity.

“I've got a lot of work to do in a short period of time,” he said.

He has a deal with Michael Waltrip Motorsports to compete in seven Nationwide races this season.

Pastrana said he has attended a couple of IndyCar races in the past, but he's never joined his group of friends at the Indianapolis 500. They have been regular attendees in the past 10 years or so, he said.

Pastrana lives near Baltimore, which will host its first IndyCar race on Sept. 4. He said IndyCar driver Marco Andretti has encouraged him to attend the event.

“He said, ‘Look, it's coming to Baltimore, you have to make it out to a race this year,'” Pastrana said of his conversation with Andretti. “I told him I might make it to a race this year, actually. I might be racing against him. That was pretty funny.”

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