For the first time in decades, Rockingham Speedway welcomed the ARCA RE/MAX Series to its one-mile facility to open the start of a two-day test session in preparation for Carolina 500K, the fifth event on the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series calendar.
For the first time in decades, Rockingham Speedway welcomed the ARCA RE/MAX Series to its one-mile facility to open the start of a two-day test session in preparation for Carolina 500K, the fifth event on the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series calendar. Sophomore driver Patrick Sheltra was one of the first to tackle the track Friday as the driver of the No. 60 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS will make his 30th career ARCA start on Sunday, May 4.
Sheltra Motorsports led by crew chief John Hayden, a former ARCA RE/MAX Series competitor himself brought one machine to focus entirely for their first tango with "The Rock."
Sheltra, the 21-year old Indiantown, Florida native clocked off the 21st fastest effort in the morning session with a time of 26.271 seconds at 137.033 MPH.
In the afternoon session, Sheltra maneuvered his Grace Sheltra-owned machine to the 18th fastest position with a time of 26.210 seconds or 137.352 MPH.
Here are some quotes and notes from today's session:
PATRICK SHELTRA, NO. 60 FERGUSON PIPE ENTERPRISES, INC.-AMERICAN CONCRETE INDUSTRIES, INC. CHEVORLET MONTE CARLO SS:
SHELTRA: (ON ROCKINGHAM SPEEDWAY) "Wow. What a place. It's not hard to see why many people love this facility. It truly is a remarkable place. I'm really happy for Andy Hillenburg and his entire staff since taking over the track. They have done a great job. It was pretty neat to have Andy be the first one to welcome me to Rockingham this morning."
SHELTRA: (ON THE TRACK) "The Rock speaks for itself. It's nothing like I've ever been on in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition. This place leaves me speechless. The two days of testing I believe will really play into our benefit. You can say we are taking it easy. We're not really pressing the issue today. There's a lot of cars here and we don't want to tear something up, just baby steps today. Overall though, so far so good."
SHELTRA: (ON ADVICE TO MASTER ROCKINGHAM) "I didn't have to go far. My buddy Kenny Wallace has plenty of laps around Rockingham and we talked for a long time Thursday about the setup of the car and how to get around it. He said the track would feel like a short track and it does. He said the tires would go away before I could blink my eyes and he was right. Kenny has been a good friend and another driver I can lean on as far guidance. We plan to talk after the test and I'm sure I'll learn ever more."
SHELTRA: (ON COMPARISION) "I don't know, this track has a lot of features of a Salem Speedway. It's hard to explain but it really does. It's a little longer but I can drive this place like Salem Speedway. I've run well at Salem in my first two events at that track so that is a little momentum booster. That could change though, I'll let you know tomorrow. Right now, Salem is the closest track."
SHELTRA: (ON CREW CHIEF JOHN HAYDEN) "John has never been here as a driver but he's been here as a crew member when Baker Curb Racing competed here a couple years ago. I think that will help me. John remembers what worked and what didn't back then. We know the cars aren't exactly the same, but we can at least start somewhere and then we can move forward and try to make our car better."
SHELTRA: (ON THE CAR; PURCHASED FROM JOE GIBBS RACING LAST SEASON) "This is the first time we've put the car on track this year and it's good. We're leaving a lot out there on the table; sandbagging if you will. The car has speed and we're using a test motor. We'll be able to use the notes from today and tomorrow and really look for a win when we come back in May."
SHELTRA: (HOW CRUICAL IS ROCKINGHAM?) "It's a track that we have marked on the calendars that we don't want to have any mistakes. There's a lot at stake when we come to Rockingham. There's going to be 50 cars that start this race and that's big. I don't see us maybe coming back on our own between now and the race to make sure that we're on top of our game. It would be a cool deal to win the Carolina 500K, a real cool deal."
SHELTRA: (ON WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO WIN THE CAROLINA 500K?) Patience. This is the longest race of the season for the ARCA RE/MAX Series and endurance will come into play. It's a long race, 500 kilometers, 312 laps. Whew. Just thinking about it makes you take a step back. I'm looking forward to it though. You just have to remember you cannot win the race in the first 262 laps. You have to be around for the final 50. That I think will be the key to Rockingham."
SHELTRA: (ON ARCA STEPPING UP THE NUMBER OF DAYS OF TESTING?) "I'm extremely thankful. I know as a driver at a place that I've never been to, I want as much track time as possible. That's important to me as a driver. It may not be a big deal to many, but it's a big deal to me."
SHELTRA: (ON OFF-TRACK ACTIVITIES) "It was nice to hang out with the guys on the Sheltra Motorsports team. Last night we all went to dinner and then we went to the local bowling alley in Rockingham and had a blast. I have the best guys in the garage, I honestly believe that. They work hard and give 150 percent, I couldn't ask for much more than that. Tonight, we'll relax a little bit before getting after it again tomorrow."