By Patrick Rall
We knew months ago that Travis Pastrana and the Chrysler Group would not be working together in 2014 in the Global RallyCross Series but with Pastrana’s new baby at home and the Nitro Circus Tour taking up much of his time, it seemed that Travis was leaving rally racing altogether. However, Pastrana posted a picture online yesterday with ”I’m Back” written in snow on the back of a Subaru Impreza…and they are welcome to him.
The Chrysler Group’s mass exile from the motorsports world encouraged a great many Dodge racing fans to jump head first into the Global RallyCross but after just two seasons with Dodge, Travis Pastrana Racing left behind their Dart rallycars at the end of the 2013 season when their contract came to an end. It is unclear whether the lack of a new contract was Pastrana’s decision, Chrysler’s decision or mutual agreement but there is no question that Pastrana Racing didn’t do Dodge fans any favors during the 2013 season.
Pastrana had a strong 2012 inaugural Global RallyCross season in the Dodge Dart and he even managed to grab a win before being injured but for the 2013 GRC season, it was very clear that Travis wasn’t all that interested in being a serious competitor in the world of rally racing. Rather than put time and effort into a sport where he might actually be competitive with some practice, Pastrana followed the bigger money to the NASCAR ranks where he spent the entire season at the rear of the field before announcing that he was leaving NASCAR at the end of last season. His lack of interest in the 2013 GRC season caused a lack of success and that led to the split between himself and Dodge – and the end of the Dodge rallycross program.
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Travis Pastrana is headed back to Subaru for the 2014 GRC season as he was (and had been for some time) a Subaru team driver before Dodge signed him for 2012. He returns to a Subaru team that was barely competitive over the past two years, due partly to their lack of quality drivers relative to the competition and partly to the fact that the Ford Fiesta GRC car is just so good. Pastrana will be the most skilled driver in the Subaru camp but with their car being so far behind the Ford Fiesta – the odds are good that he won’t be doing any more winning in 2014 than he did in 2013. Hopefully for Subaru rally fans, he will be more devoted to the sport in 2014 than he was in 2013 but without some serious improvements to the Subaru STI race cars, it won’t make any difference how much time he spends in the car as it just isnt fast enough to keep up with the Ford teams.