0

X-Games star inks deal with NASCAR

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

PHOENIX -- Travis Pastrana has signed a deal with Michael Waltrip Racing that could put him in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide series as early as next year.

The action sports star has formed a team called Pastrana-Waltrip Racing, with Waltrip and Gary and Blake Bechtel. Pending NASCAR approval, he will run seven Nationwide races next season and 20 in 2012.

"I've been following NASCAR closely for years as a fan of the sport with competing in the sport a lifelong dream," Pastrana said in a statement released Thursday.

"I decided it was time to try and turn that dream into reality and with the help of the Bechtel family, Michael Waltrip Racing and Wasserman Media Group I'm now one step closer."

Pastrana is a star in Moto X, X Games and American rally racing. He's won 16 gold medals in the X Games, and has multiple supercross, motocross and rally championships in his career. He also has set motorcycle and automobile jump records.

Pastrana-Waltrip Racing will field Toyotas out of MWR's shop in North Carolina. The car's number has not been determined. Waltrip owns the No. 99, and Pastrana's longtime racing number is 199.

NASCAR has not yet approved Pastrana for competition.

Waltrip said the youth demographic Pastrana brings to NASCAR could provide a boost for the sport.

"Travis has built an enormous and unique following all over the world," Waltrip said. "As a race team owner, we are always looking for ways to deliver to our partners and engage our fans better. This is an opportunity to showcase our company and our sport to a new generation of young fans.

"We're also looking for that next big star. Travis already is one and action sports is full of talented athletes. Having Travis as a part of our program adds another great dimension to our team and NASCAR."

The announcement came a day after longtime rally racing partner Subaru announced it had ended its relationship with Pastrana.

"Travis brought rally to a whole new audience through the rally championship and of course through his spectacular appearances at X Games," Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer of Subaru of America, said in a statement Wednesday.

"We wholeheartedly thank him for his outstanding performances with Subaru Rally Team USA and wish him well in his future endeavors."

Red Bull, a longtime sponsor of Pastrana's, will remain a personal sponsor. The energy drink company will not sponsor his car in NASCAR.