LAS VEGAS — One of the intriguing storylines from Friday’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series stop at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the race-within-a-race between Conor Daly and Travis Pastrana.
The Indy car racer and action-sports star brought their friendly rivalry from the LCQ League on iRacing to the real-life race track in Sin City, with the pair piloting Niece Motorsports-prepared Chevrolet Silverados at the 1.5-mile oval.
It was part of the LCQ $1 Challenge, with a friendly bet consisting of the loser handing over an autographed, framed $1 bill to the winner.
Friday night marked Daly’s Truck Series debut and first NASCAR start on an oval, following a previous NASCAR Xfinity Series run at Road America in 2018. Meanwhile, it was the fifth Truck Series start of Pastrana’s piecemeal NASCAR tenure.
Though he didn’t have the advantage in experience, Daly passed Pastrana at the beginning of the final stage on lap 68 and held serve through the second half of the event.
Both drivers eventually lost a lap, but Daly hung on to the lead lap until the final corners — yielding to the torrid late-race duel for the win between leaders Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed out of respect.
Daly’s truck began billowing smoke coming to the checkered flag, with flames shooting out from underneath the machine due to an apparent drivetrain failure, but the Indy car regular coasted across the finish line in 18th — three positions clear of Pastrana — to win the bet and a dollar.
Even though he held the upper hand for much of the night, Daly noted he still wanted to try and keep tabs on where Pastrana was as much as he could.
“I’ll tell you what, that was terrifying for a long part of the race,” admitted Daly after the race. “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.”
The World of Westgate 200 was Pastrana’s second Truck Series start of the season. It’s the first time in his career, dating back to 2012, that Pastrana has run multiple Truck Series races in a single year.
While Pastrana outpaced Daly at various points during the first two stages, he tagged the outside wall before the lap-60 benchmark and dropped a lap to the leaders shortly afterward.
The second stage break brought a free pass with it to the No. 45 Chevrolet Silverado, after which Pastrana battled Daly at the start of the final stage before fading through the closing laps.
“I tell you what, I felt pretty confident in the middle stint,” Pastrana explained. “We were loose. This is probably the worst that I have felt (in the truck). 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 just 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.”
Though Friday was Daly’s maiden voyage in the Truck Series, he quickly expressed his desire to run another race in the division sooner — rather than later — on social media.
“What an experience! That was so much fun,” Daly wrote. “Massive respect to these NASCAR Truck Series drivers. (Eighteenth and) crossing the line on fire seems about right! This Niece Motorsports team is fantastic.
“Let’s line up another one, Travis Pastrana.”