Homestead: Patrick Sheltra race report

Patrick Sheltra Solid At Homestead-Miami Speedway; Indiantown, Florida Native Locks Top-25 Finish In Second NASCAR Nationwide Start HOMESTEAD, Florida (November 18, 2008) - - Patrick Sheltra in his second NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start ...

Patrick Sheltra Solid At Homestead-Miami Speedway; Indiantown, Florida Native Locks Top-25 Finish In Second NASCAR Nationwide Start

HOMESTEAD, Florida (November 18, 2008) - - Patrick Sheltra in his second NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) start blossomed through one of the toughest fields of the year to latch a solid top-25 finish in Saturday's Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sheltra, in Jay Robinson Racing's No. 4 Dodge Charger headed to the season finale looking to better his 29th place finish the week before at Phoenix International Raceway where the Indiantown, Florida native made his transition to NASCAR a successful one.

A week later, Sheltra was ready to build on the experience and gain more knowledge at one of the series most demanding tracks.

During both practices, Sheltra worked with his team to dial in his Case Construction Equipment, Briggs Construction Equipment and Quality Turf of Okeechobee, Inc. Dodge Charger. Building on lap times, the team headed into qualifying optimistic.

After drawing 16th for qualifying on Friday, Sheltra was hoping to take advantage of the early draw and lay down a good lap. Sheltra's fastest lap came on lap one when he muscled his machine around Homestead-Miami Speedway in 33.367 seconds at 161.837 miles per hour. The lap was three-tenths faster than his previous best practice lap. Sheltra would line up for his Homestead-Miami Speedway debut in the 38th position.

"We picked up but we didn't get the starting spot we wanted," offered Sheltra after qualifying. "The biggest priority is that we're in the show and we'll move forward and hope we can end our season with a good run."

At the start of the Ford 300, Sheltra was holding steady in the top-35 but quickly reported a loose condition on his Case Construction Equipment, Briggs Construction Equipment and Quality Turf of Okeechobee, Inc. Dodge Charger. As the tire pressures built up, the handling of Sheltra's machine changed where he was able to turn consistent lap times.

Coaching from spotter Kevin Huffines informed his rookie driver to "watch and learn" the competitors ahead of him while trying to hit their marks and find the best line around the 1.5-mile speedway. Sheltra fell off the lead lap approaching lap 40 when the leaders were setting a blistering and then a race record pace.

A green flag pit stop on lap 55 allowed Sheltra to bring his machine to the attention of his team for four Goodyear Eagles and fuel. Despite a great stop, the team lost another lap on pit road which found the No. 4 two laps off the pace.

Another yellow flag 10 laps later allowed the team to bring their driver down pit road for a chassis adjustment to correct the tightness in the center.

On the restart, Sheltra's lap times were comparable of teams in the top-20. Another yellow flag on lap 78 allowed Sheltra to come down pit road for fuel and two more rounds up on the right side to make his Dodge Charger faster with the ever-changing track conditions.

Another caution approaching lap 90 allowed Sheltra to duck down pit road where the team took a piece of tape off to tighten up his machine and correct a potential over-heating problem.

Continuing to inch up through the running order, Sheltra ran his fastest lap of the day on lap 119 with the team encouraging their driver to keep it up.

The second-half of the Ford 300 saw Sheltra adapting well to the series and to the track. With lap times impressive and Sheltra confident in his racing line, the Indiantown, Florida native found himself battling the best-of-the-best in the Nationwide Series.

In the closing laps, Sheltra appeared he would exit Homestead-Miami Speedway unscathed but giving 150 percent behind the wheel, Sheltra kissed the wall in turns three and four with two laps remaining. The driver apologized to his crew for his error but the damage didn't falter the handling of the machine with Sheltra crossing the line 24th in his second NASCAR Nationwide Series start.

"I'm very satisfied with our run," said Sheltra following the race. "Again, I learned a bunch this weekend. Our car was really good in the second half of the race and if we had not lost those two laps early, we would have finished in the top-20. I'm really proud of the team and the guys for working so hard and making this effort a reality at Homestead."

He continued, "I have to give a huge thanks to our marketing partners Case Construction Equipment, Briggs Construction Equipment and Quality Turf of Okeechobee, Inc. for their support at Phoenix and Homestead. We could not have done it without them. Also, a big thank you to all my fans of Indiantown, Florida who were in the stands cheering me on and the unbelievable amount of emails and phone calls was overwhelming. We're definitely looking forward to 2009."

Sheltra completed 198 of the scheduled 200 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Next up for Sheltra will be the acceptance of his sixth place championship finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series which will take place at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Kentucky on Saturday, December 6.

-credit: PatrickSheltra.com.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Patrick Sheltra