Travis Pastrana, the former X Games star turned NASCAR driver, added to his collection of firsts Friday by winning the pole position for the Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
He circled the 2.66-mile tri-oval with a fast lap of 176.500 mph in qualifying for the Aaron's 312 on Saturday.
“It sounds like a dream come true," said Pastrana, who drives for Roush Fenway Racing. "Bringing the guys to the line at the green flag at Talladega is awesome, so I’m definitely excited.
"I mean, this Roush Fenway team has worked so hard. Chad [Norris], my crew chief, he’s like, ‘We’ve been putting everything together. Let’s go out there and get this thing.’ He had a lot of confidence in myself and the car and it’s just awesome to be able to show the work these guys are putting together and I’m definitely really happy to be here.”
Pastrana, who has made the top 10 in qualifying only twice in 17 attempts on the Nationwide circuit, finished 10th after qualifying fourth at Daytona, the only other restrictor-plate race in which he's driven.
“On the restrictor-plate races it means you went out there and drove a perfectly clean lap and that your car and that your crew and that everybody was working together," Pastrana said of qualifying Friday. "You picked the right line and did the right stuff, but mostly that you have a great team and a great car.
"Winning the pole at a restrictor-plate race also means that you’re going to have a lot of people that are willing to work with you come race day, so I’m excited about that.”
Austin Dillon qualified second, with Trevor Bayne, Danica Patrick and Justin Allgaier rounding out the top five.
Earning the pole position was also a first for Roush Fenway Racing.
“For me, it’s awesome to be able to go out there and to know that we have a great team, a great car, that we put in a good lap," Pastrana said. "Here at Talladega and at Daytona as well, it’s not quite as much on sheer driving ability. It’s the ability to keep focused and keep it smooth, but you’re not sliding the car.
"But, at the same time, if we get a pole at Dover or another place that’s more of a driver’s track, I think that gets more respect from the other drivers. But as far as something to check off the list, this is really, really high on that list, so I’m excited.”
ALSO:Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times