Kyle Busch is undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers in the history of NASCAR – you don’t win over 200 races and three championships across its three national divisions if you’re not. But how can that translate over to rallycross?
Rather well, as it turns out, if Travis Pastrana is to be believed.
Of course, like Subaru team-mate Scott Speed, Pastrana has sampled both NASCAR and rallycross during his extensive career, but Busch – who’ll be competing in Nitro Rallycross’ third round in Phoenix this weekend – has spent pretty much all of his career in stock cars.
But don’t let that give you the impression that he’s going to find this weekend tricky.
“I think NASCAR’s underrated generally, especially by anyone outside of the States, because they don’t realize that these drivers were the top drivers from whatever they came in [from], whether it was karting or dirt track or midgets or whatever, legends cars,” Pastrana told DirtFish when asked about Busch’s rallycross potential. “They were very good talents, and then you put them in the [stock] car.
“[It’s] the same with Kyle Busch. He blew me away when we went down to Race of Champions, and every car he jumped in, right away, he was absolutely blazing fast and he could pick it up in a lap.
“It’ll be interesting with all-wheel drive, that’ll be a little different, he’s got some stuff that he definitely has to learn but when he jumped in the Lites car at Race of Champions, he was second-fastest to Petter Solberg. Faster than myself and Scott Speed which was very disappointing,” Pastrana quipped.
Following the announcement of Busch’s inclusion in Nitro RX for a one-off appearance at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Pastrana’s been inundated with interest from drivers in NASCAR and other series, and he expects any others that follow Busch – who was once set for a Formula 1 test with Toyota before he’d even won a NASCAR championship until a scheduling conflict got in the way – to be strong as well.
Not only that, but their popularity and the wider public’s awareness brings important benefits too.
“I think that the NASCAR guys, especially the ones who are going to want to get into these, they have so much seat time and such a good feel of anything they drive that they’re going to pick it up really, really fast,” said Pastrana.
“If these name drivers want to come in, it helps the sport and it helps bring other sponsorship and other eyes and I believe when people see rallycross, that excitement is going to shine through and the drivers’ excitement honestly is what carried us so far. And that’s excitement on the tracks, excitement to be scared a little bit but, at the same time, have it as safe as we possibly can.”