By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
An iRacing grudge match between motorsports legend Travis Pastrana and NTT IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly turned into a real-life bet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Daly and Pastrana have joined other drivers including Parker Kligerman, Landon Cassill, and Ricky Carmichael in the LCQ League on iRacing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the duo couldn’t keep the competition online and took their competitive fire to the track.
Daly and Pastrana competed in the World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas. Whichever of the two finished better in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, the loser would have to turn over a signed and framed $1 bill. For Pastrana, it was his fifth career Truck start. Meanwhile for Daly, it was his Truck Series debut and first NASCAR oval start.
While Pastrana has more experience, it was Daly that had the upper hand. At the start of the final Stage, Daly restarted ahead of Pastrana. The two drivers raced around one another throughout the 200-mile race. As the race reached the final laps, Pastrana slipped a lap down while running 20th in his No. 45 iRacing / Pit Viper Chevrolet Silverado, two spots behind Daly.
The IndyCar veteran stayed on the lead lap until the very last corner. In a respectful move, he yielded to race leaders Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed. Moments later, Daly’s No. 42 iRacing / Fatheadz Eyewear Chevrolet Silverado erupted in smoke as a part in the drivetrain failed. He limped his Niece Motorsports entry across the line, on fire, in 18th. Daly bested his LCQ League partner Pastrana by three positions when the night was over.
“I’ll tell you what, that was terrifying for a long part of the race,” Daly admitted to NASCAR on FOX’s Alan Cavanna. “It wouldn’t be LCQ fashion if someone didn’t end up on fire crossing the line. Just a learning experience, a massive, massive learning experience each stint, how quick you could drive the truck in, where was the limit of grip when you were sliding it, and where was Travis.
“It was very important to know where Travis was. We spent a lot of the race near each other, so it was like ‘Oh boy, we are side by side.’ I couldn’t see if he was waving at me or not, but it was a very successful day, so I’m very happy with that.”
It started with a bet and ended with fire in Vegas.
— Alan Cavanna (@AlanCavanna) September 26, 2020
For Pastrana, the World of Westgate 200 marked the first time in his career that he ran two Truck Series races in a single season. It was also the second time in which he was not the cause of a caution during the race.
Pastrana was ahead of Daly for much of the first two Stages of the race at Las Vegas. However, near the end of the second stage, he brushed the wall in his No. 45 Chevrolet and slipped a lap down. Pastrana earned the free pass at the end of the stage and continued to run side-by-side with Daly.
“I tell you what, I felt pretty confident in the middle stint,” Pastrana also explained to NASCAR on FOX’s Alan Cavanna. “We were loose. This is probably the worse that I have felt. Don’t get me wrong, that was one of my best finishes and it was probably the first time I didn’t do a 360 through the infield. I bounced off the wall a little bit.
“I just want to thank Niece Motorsports for giving me the opportunity and NASCAR for allowing Conor with absolutely no experience to jump in and beat me. So, I feel like it went fairly similar to how our iRacing training went. It was fun, I had a blast.”
Post-race, Daly expressed his respect to the regular competitors in the Truck Series. He also expressed interest in competing in the truck again in the future.
What an experience! So much fun. Massive respect to these @NASCAR_Trucks drivers. P18 crossing the line on fire 😂 seems about right! This @NieceMotorsport team is fantastic. Let’s line up another one @TravisPastrana ! @iRacing @Fatheadz @ElliottsTrailer @wienerschnitzel pic.twitter.com/QTj3gLF26J
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) September 26, 2020
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo