Patrick Sheltra Completes First NASCAR Practices "Indiantown, Florida Native Conquers All Three Sessions Without Incident" MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (October 26, 2007) - - Patrick Sheltra switched gears Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor...
Patrick Sheltra Completes First NASCAR Practices
"Indiantown, Florida Native Conquers All Three Sessions Without Incident"
MOORESVILLE, North Carolina (October 26, 2007) - - Patrick Sheltra switched gears Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) switching from ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) rookie to NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) rookie as the 21-year old rising star completed his first ever NASCAR laps behind the wheel of the No. 12 Racegear.com Chevrolet Silverado for Andy Belmont Racing (ABR).
Communication was the primary order of the morning for Sheltra as he communicated with his ABR team led by NASCAR and ARCA veteran Andy Belmont. Sheltra then received a little Atlanta coaching from hometown hero Joey Clanton (No. 09 Ford) before spotter Jason Jarrett stepped in and offered his two cents leading up to Sheltra's rookie meeting.
After the meeting, Sheltra headed to the hauler, gathered his thoughts before putting on his suit carrying the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series emblem and sprinting off to his truck getting set for the first of three practice sessions.
Shortly into the first practice, the team reversed back from the garage and sent Sheltra out to tackle the lighting fast AMS. During his first tango with the 1.5-mile speed plant, Sheltra advised his crew that he was taking it easy and adjusting to the truck and the track.
Sheltra completed about five laps before bringing the truck back to the garage where the team made a shock adjustment before sending Sheltra back onto the track for another session. During the second go-around, Sheltra further adapted himself to the track reporting to the ABR team that the truck seemed good, but he wasn't giving 100 percent. Sheltra reported that the truck was a little loose, but he thought it could be corrected with a wedge adjustment.
Returning to the garage, Belmont advised his rookie driver that the team was receiving too much shock travel forcing Sheltra to climb from the seat, so the team could make the necessary changes.
With the first session complete, Sheltra racked in the 36th fastest time (33.779 seconds, 164.126 MPH), but the team was relatively satisfied with that as they knew they still had a bunch on the table.
"I'm satisfied," said Sheltra, who will make his inaugural NCTS start on Saturday. "There's a lot of practice left and I just want to get myself not only comfortable with the track but comfortable with the truck too. I have no worries, we'll pick up the pace and we'll be fine."
Heading into the rookie practice, Sheltra was looking to gain some ground. He didn't disappoint.
After fooling with the shocks, the ABR team sent the rookie back on the track where he began strutting his stuff. Once getting his groove, the lap times began to pick up. Knocking out a 33.70 on his second lap, Sheltra was able to climb to a 33.375 before bringing his Racegear.com Chevrolet to the attention of his Mooresville, North Carolina based team. Sheltra reported that his truck was fighting a loose condition. Belmont acknowledged his rookie driver and informed him that the team had plan to make a change.
After making some minor tweaks, Sheltra returned to the race track before keying his radio and advising Belmont that as he drove wide open into turn three the side skirt hit the track which shot the truck sideways. "10-4 Patrick, nice save!" sounded Belmont. The team opted to bring the No. 12 back to the garage to correct the issue.
Sheltra ended up 11th (33.375 seconds, 166.112 MPH) out of 12th fastest in the rookie session.
"The truck continues to get better. The team is making some great calls and great adjustments. The truck still has a lot more left, we just need to use patience and let the truck come to us. I want to thank everyone who has made this opportunity possible. We picked up six tenths from the last session, so it's a good feeling for us to know that we're picking up the pace."
Heading into the final practice session of the day, Sheltra was focused on maneuvering his truck comfortably around the Hampton, Georgia facility. Locked into Saturday's race, Sheltra was leaning towards pulling together the best lap possible.
At the start of the session, Sheltra bolted out a time of 33.5 seconds but radioed the team that the truck was loose, all over the place loose. The team informed their pilot to bring the truck where they would make a spring adjustment hoping to tighten up the automobile.
After making the spring adjustment, the team advised Sheltra to make a run another run, but the looseness continued. The next change was to put a fresh set of tires underneath the truck and let Sheltra roll.
During the run, Sheltra continued to shine. Reporting that the truck was no longer loose, the truck was neutral but was asking for more track time. The team honored his request but wanted to add a rubber to the right front.Returning to the track for the final five minutes of practice, Sheltra nicknamed "Mr. Showtime" continued to rack up laps hoping it will pay off in a big way in Saturday's EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200.
At the conclusion of "Happy Hour", Sheltra landed 35th fastest with a time of 33.584 seconds at 165.079 MPH.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to be fine for tomorrow's race," explained Sheltra. "I learned an awful lot out there today. I haven't had any experience or even sat in a truck before this morning, so to post the times we did is satisfying for me. The truck is very solid. The more I'm behind the wheel, the better I will become. There was no point in nailing the throttle extremely hard and wrecking the truck. We'll be fine for qualifying tomorrow morning. Our goal is to finish the race, I don't see any reason why that wont' happen. I just want to thank everyone again for giving me this opportunity."
Sheltra drew the 25th position for Bud pole qualifying on Saturday morning.