- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Travis Pastrana will have a guaranteed spot in the field for his Nationwide Series debut next week at Richmond.

The extreme sports star will race a Toyota that will be fielded jointly between Michael Waltrip Racing and RAB Racing. Kenny Wallace has been the primary driver of RAB’s No. 09 car _ which will be changed to No. 99 for Pastrana.

Pastrana said being locked into the field takes some of the pressure of him at Richmond.

“The qualifying, running one fast lap, is something that I’ve been working really hard,” he said Tuesday. “But the most difficult thing for me has been to get up to speed in the first couple laps. So this will be huge for me.”

MWR will provide cars and technical and marketing support for RAB under the alliance announced Tuesday. Mike Greci, Pastrana’s crew chief in NASCAR regional races, will co-crew chief with Scott Zipadelli of RAB when Pastrana drives.

Pastrana had been scheduled to make his Nationwide debut last July, but broke his right ankle in the X Games two days before the race. His debut has been delayed until Richmond, but Pastrana said his time sidelined actually gave him an opportunity to learn more about NASCAR.

“I hadn’t realized it until I got back,” Pastrana said. “I think I understand more of the terminology. I understand more how to get feedback. I think in the long run, I wouldn’t go as far. I’m sure I could have learned more out on the track than I could have from TV, but it was definitely something that I think is going to help this season and help my first race be better. I’m hoping that’s the case.”

Pastrana is also scheduled to race at Darlington and Charlotte in May. MWR also has New Hampshire, Chicago, Indianapolis and Atlanta on his tentative schedule.

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