One fan at a time

CONCORD, NC - JANUARY 24:  Driver Travis Pastrana is introduced as teammates Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards and team owner Jack Roush watch on during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour on January 24, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

CONCORD, NC – JANUARY 24: Driver Travis Pastrana is introduced as teammates Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards and team owner Jack Roush watch on during the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Media Tour on January 24, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Charlotte, N.C. — Travis Pastrana has more than half a million Twitter followers, ranking him first — decisively — among full-time Nationwide Series drivers.

Pastrana’s fans, however, know him best for dangerous extreme-sports tricks that last two or three seconds. How does Pastrana convert those followers — many of whom fall into the 18-34-year-old age group NASCAR covets — to NASCAR fans, as he begins a full Nationwide Series season with Roush Fenway Racing.

He’s already started. Pastrana took some of his extreme-sports friends to a NASCAR race. They left with eyes wide open.

“It’s funny, because last year, a couple of my friends from the action sports were like, ‘Oh, come on — NASCAR?'” Pastrana told the NASCAR Wire Service on Thursday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “So I brought ’em down to Daytona, and we saw the Shootout (now the Sprint Unlimited), and Jeff Gordon ended up on his roof sliding to within five feet of where we were sitting.

“Half of the guys that I brought went to other events — not even events that I was in, just other events that year. When they see the speed, when they see the intensity of NASCAR, no one can go to a race and not be a fan.”

Pastrana knows, however, that in order to retain fans for his racing efforts, he needs to perform.

“My goal is just simply to drive the best I can, because, even if I bring them over and they want to watch me, no one wants to watch someone at the end of a year, or at the end of two years still in 20th place,” he said.

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