Travis Pastrana, driver of the No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota Camry for RAB Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, has been having a rough time at every track he has gone to this season. Travis and his driving coach Matt Crafton explained some of the problems and tactics they are using to improve his driving.
When Matt Crafton, a driver in the Camping World Truck Series, was asked to be a driver coach for Travis Pastrana, he did not know what to think. Matt said, “I went down to some race track in Florida and tested with him the first day, I didn’t know what he was going to be like. The first day working with him, this guy’s alright and after the second day he asked if I wanted to keep helping him.”
Travis Pastrana still has a lot to learn but his relationship with Matt is helping him tremendously. At each track Matt says to Travis “This one is going to be one of the toughest places you go.” Travis understands this fully. “Every track has so many different characteristics. It seems from the outside, I’m dumbfounded because I’m like, there’s two corners – I know you call it four, but there’s usually two corners, sometimes there’s three. I’m like, how can this be so different every single weekend? How can the line change so much from what – We went to Charlotte and it was cooling off towards the end of the afternoon during the final practice and we had a great setup. I went to the race and I had to play a complete idiot, or I felt like one”, Travis said, “How can it change that much, the track setup from just cooling down to warming up?”
Having Matt Crafton to give him feedback on his car has been a help. Travis Pastrana will get in the car and tell the team how it is working then Matt will get into the car, do a few laps and give him feedback on how the car really is. “It’s tracks like this (Chicagoland Speedway) that I’ve never driven on, like for instance I went to my first Nationwide race a Richmond and Matt came in, I was like, ‘Guys, car is super loose coming in and super tight in the center.’ Matt jumps in the car and goes, ‘Okay, nope, it’s just really tight everywhere, you’re just using the wrong line.’”, Travis said during the interview. It is feedback like this that helps him understand what is really happening with the race car.
Sounds simple to just put Matt into Travis’s car but Travis is quite a bit taller than Matt. Matt said, “It’s ridiculous how they get me to reach the pedals, but I actually do.” Matt discussed Travis’s learning experience, “He’s been so willing to learn and wanting to learn so much, that’s what is so awesome about it.”
Travis Pastrana is also getting help from his fellow competitors. Last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Matt Crafton could not make it to the race. Joey Logano offered to help. Joey told Travis, “Hey, I’m not running the Nationwide Series today, let me jump in and try to help you like Matt’s been doing.” Help like this from his competitors is what had impressed Travis the most. “I’ve never experienced so many guys so willing to help – It’s such a big family. It’s going to be a ride – It’s been fun, a really good experience.”
Look for Matt Crafton and other drivers to continue helping Travis Pastrana, hopefully when Travis starts to go to tracks that he has been to before, we will see the results.
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