Travis Pastrana will have a busy day on Saturday. In addition to running his No. 99 Boost Mobile Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he'll compete a Dodge Dart in the first Global RallyCross race of the season at the same venue.
"I've been patiently waiting to get behind the wheel of my Dodge Dart for months now!" Pastrana told ESPN. "We started planning this project so long ago that I'm thrilled race day is almost here and I finally get to race the Dart. I haven't been this excited about racing in a long time."
The Global RallyCross series is starting its second season. Unlike standard rally racing -- in which drivers race one car at a time against the clock on mostly public roads -- in GRC drivers race against each other in timed heats, with the fastest drivers moving on to the final heat.
Pastrana, a four-time Rally-America champion, first drove Global RallyCross at the X Games last year, though he was hampered by a broken leg. In Charlotte, he'll be competing with some of the best rally drivers in the country, including Ken Block and Tanner Foust, the Global RallyCross champion last year.
Another favorite going into the race is Finnish driver Marcus Gronholm, a two-time champion in rally racing's highest echelon, the World Rally Championships.
"[T]his is the first Rallycross event that’s been on the level in the U.S.," said Pastrana. "You have all the best drivers in the world that are coming over and it’s going to be really interesting to see who comes out on this course and can actually adapt pretty quick."
The 2013 Dodge Dart that Pastrana will be putting on track isn't your run of the mill econobox. The custom-built car has a sharp blue livery and packs a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 16-valve turbocharged engine coupled to a Sedav 4-wheel drive gear box that puts out 600 hp and more than 550 lb.-ft of torque. Zero-to-60 time? Try 1.9 seconds.
“I’ve grown up, basically, with Rally," said Pastrana recently after testing the Dart. "That’s my car experience since I was 16 and got a chance to drive a WRC car. That’s been what I’ve always done when we’ve had off-time."
"[F]or me, I feel a lot more at home in a Rally car," he added. "A lot of the habits that I’ve learned from Rally I’ve been trying to break here with the rear-wheel drive car in the Nationwide stuff of not getting on the gas too soon. Then when we get back in the Rally car, it’s all about aggression. The second you get in the corner you’re flat, you’re ready to go. It’s going to be interesting going back and forth."