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All eyes are on Patrick this week after she won the pole for Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500, but Stenhouse fully expects to get his due this season when the discussion turns to his job as driver of the No. 17 Ford.

“I think it is a cool opportunity for me to come into Matt’s number with a totally different team and because of the story people don’t realize it is a different crew chief, team and over the wall guys,” he said. “The only thing the same is the number and the sponsors. I think we have accomplished a lot in NASCAR in the Nationwide series and to think that is going to translate right over to the Sprint Cup Series the first year is a little difficult.

“But I think we are capable of doing that though and that is the plan. At the end of the season we want to be talking about our performance.”


ROOKIE AGAIN: Action star Travis Pastrana is the newest addition to the Roush-Fenway Racing lineup, and he’ll attempt to run his first Nationwide Series race at Daytona this weekend.

But Pastrana is no stranger to the speedway.

“My first Supercross win was on the infield here at Daytona,” he said. “Daytona Speedweeks and Daytona Bikeweek have been two of my favorite events for as long as I can remember. Having the opportunity to race here in a NASCAR event is truly a dream come true.”

Pastrana will drive the No. 60 Ford for RFR. Because he has nine previous starts in the Nationwide Series, he is not eligible for the rookie of the year program, but said he feels like one this season and “it’s a scary feeling.”

“As I come into NASCAR with success in other forms of racing and enter this year as a full-time driver with a top team, everyone’s expectations are pretty high,” he said. “I’ve always liked to be thrown into the deep end.”

Pastrana will be teammates with Trevor Bayne, winner of the 2011 Daytona 500.

“Hopefully, I can earn Trevor’s trust because he’s the man here and I couldn’t ask for a better teammate for my first race here,” he said. “I’m lined up with great equipment and an amazing crew. I’m surrounded by a lot of knowledge and I’m ready to learn. This season is going to be an epic ride. Game on.”


RECOVERING: Antron Brown flew home to Indiana for a doctor visit this week following his frightening accident at the NHRA Winternationals in California.

The reigning NHRA world champion went for a wild ride after his engine exploded at 300 mph, sending his dragster veering sharply to the left before flipping onto its side. It backed into a concrete guardwall before sliding past the dragstrip pavement and into a sand trap.

Brown escaped injury in part because of the enclosed safety canopy developed by his Don Schumacher Racing team.

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