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Inside Motorsports: Can’t fault Travis Pastrana’s effort in failed NASCAR endeavor

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  • Next race

    Ford 400

    Where: Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Fla.

    When: 3 p.m. Sunday

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: Motor Racing Network

    Last year’s winner: Jeff Gordon



Travis Pastrana might not have been able to make a career out of NASCAR racing, but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or commitment by the X Games star.

While Pastrana was collected up in the media spotlight as the “next best thing” to hit NASCAR – much like former IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick – he made no pretense about the difficult road he faced.

From his first days, Pastrana tried to give himself every opportunity to improve. He ran several K&N Pro Series races in addition to the Nationwide Series schedule he had planned, all in an effort to get as much track time as possible.

At the beginning of this season – his first as a full-time NASCAR driver – Pastrana showed some improvement and signs of speed.

He just never seemed to be able to capture the finesse needed on asphalt tracks.

“It’s tough to step back now and prove the critics were right, but unfortunately my results were not good enough to get the sponsors I needed to appropriately fund next season,” Pastrana wrote this week on his Facebook page.

“I hate to quit and I hate to fail, but sometimes things work out as they should.”

Pastrana said he hoped to continue to drive more rally and off-road events – he has been successful at both.

There were many who pinned a lot of expectations on Pastrana’s NASCAR experiment, hoping it would translate into something bigger and better for the sport.

Perhaps, though, Pastrana’s exit serves as an important reminder of two things.

First, NASCAR competition is tough and just because someone excelled at another form of racing doesn’t mean it will translate here.

And second, before pronouncing someone as great for the sport, it’s best to wait and see if they are at least good at it.

Notes

Dillon enters Truck finale: Austin Dillon, who has a chance to win the Nationwide series championship this weekend, also has entered Friday night’s Ford 200 Truck series season finale at Homestead, Fla.

Dillon will drive the No.6 Chevrolet for Sharp-Gallaher Racing. The team won this race a year ago with driver Cale Gale.

“Racing in the Trucks will help me determine exactly what my Nationwide Series car needs as I try to battle for that championship, and Richard Childress Racing has an alliance with SGR,” Dillon said.

“They put solid, competitive trucks on the track each week and won the race last year. I think we can put them in Victory Lane there again.”

LaJoie to Homestead for RPM: Corey LaJoie will make his Nationwide series debut Saturday, driving a second car for Richard Petty Motorsports. LaJoie is a development driver for RPM.

LaJoie, 22, has turned heads this year by winning three times in five Automobile Racing Club of America starts.

“I feel like I’ve been ready for this for a couple of years but finally everything is falling into place,” LaJoie said. “I’m happy it’s with a great organization like RPM, and I couldn’t be more excited to represent them on and off the race track.”

One more race for Larson: Nationwide series regular Kyle Larson, 21, will return to the Cup series this weekend and the seat of the No.51 Chevrolet – his final tune-up before taking the reins of the No.42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet fulltime in 2014.

In three starts in the No.51, Larson’s best finish has been a 23rd at Texas.

Is it Christmas already? Speedway Christmas will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway bigger, brighter and better in its fourth year, with a new route of 3.1 miles and more than 3million LED lights in 800 displays.

Visitors will be able to get a peek of the lights during the Eggnog Jog 5K on Nov.22. Open nightly Nov. 23-Dec. 30, excluding Christmas Day, the Speedway Christmas drive-through light show will feature a life-sized, Bethlehem-themed village, photos with Santa and marshmallow roasting pits.

Admission will be$15 per car on nights the Christmas Village is closed and $20 per car if the village is open. For more information, call 800-455-3267.

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