Travis Pastrana to take $5M challenge

INDIANAPOLIS -- Travis Pastrana will try anything, and IndyCar officials are ready to give him a chance.

As the American with 16 X Games gold medals and multiple supercross, motocross and rally championships prepares to make his NASCAR Nationwide debut next week, he's already discussing an even bigger trick -- taking IndyCar's $5 million challenge in October.

"Look, given the opportunity to drive an IndyCar, I'd be an idiot to turn it down," Pastrana told reporters in Indianapolis on Thursday. "Of course I've got to get in that car, I've got to test it and I've driven pretty much every other form of racing. I feel like I can be safe. Whether or not we are competitive for the $5 million is a whole other question, but definitely working that out and seeing what is possible, what licensing I need to get, and I'd be an idiot not to go for it."

Back in February, IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard offered a $5 million prize to any driver from another series who wins the league's season-finale Oct. 16 in Las Vegas.

Thursday night, Bernard said roughly two dozen drivers have inquired about the race, but only about a half dozen have actually filed applications. Pastrana's comments at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis only upped the ante, with Bernard encouraging him to make the race.

"He fits the profile to a tee because he's a superstar, an athlete that has been able to excel in many genres of sport and if he can compete in our car and system, he's exactly what we want," Bernard said in a phone interview from Edmonton, the site of this weekend's IndyCar race. "He's a huge draw. I can't believe how many text messages and emails I've had already regarding what he said today."

The league isn't going to let anyone race.

While most drivers are expected to submit a resume and letters of recommendation, Bernard said that shouldn't be necessary for the five drivers who could start the race in Vegas.

One driver lobbying to make the start is former series champ Dan Wheldon. He only started one race this season, winning the Indianapolis 500. Bernard said committee members haven't decided yet whether he would be eligible for the $5 million prize.

Approved drivers will have to complete a physical and pass a rookie test. About five non-IndyCar drivers are expected to start the race on a Las Vegas track that could accommodate a 31-car field, Bernard said.

Pastrana could be find himself at the head of the class.

On July 15, he finished 22nd in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and next week he will participate in the Nationwide race at Lucas Oil Raceway, a few miles from Indy's famous 2.5-mile oval. Eventually, he'd like to race at the Cup level.

And with a background that includes record-breaking motorcycle and automobile jumps, nothing seems to be off limits -- even racing in Vegas.

"If I want to do the Indy race in Las Vegas for $5 million, I've got to dedicate a lot of time on how to figure out to drive an IndyCar," Pastrana said.

Apparently, he's prepared to make the commitment.

On Thursday, Pastrana said he is dropping out of events such as the Nitro Circus next year. He does plan to finish a 3-D movie.

After that, Pastrana will devote himself to racing stock cars and let his friends focus on stunts with other vehicles such as the monster truck competition he was in last weekend.

"I'm not going to be doing the movies, I'm not going to be taking the risks, I'm not going to be doing the freestyle stuff," he said. "If there is a building calling my name before a NASCAR race I may have to do a base jump or two, but, for the most part, we will be pretty safe and try to get into this car."