Under cool and overcast skies, ARCA RE/MAX Series sophomore driver Patrick Sheltra joined over 20 teams electing to participate in the first of two days of open practice at Talladega Superspeedway in preparation for the final superspeedway event...
Under cool and overcast skies, ARCA RE/MAX Series sophomore driver Patrick Sheltra joined over 20 teams electing to participate in the first of two days of open practice at Talladega Superspeedway in preparation for the final superspeedway event of the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season, the ARCA RE/MAX 250 set for Friday, October 3rd, 2008.
Sheltra, the 22-year old rising star returns to the 2.66-mile speedway looking to better his freshman finish at one of the oldest tracks on the ARCA RE/MAX Series circuit. In his restrictor plate debut last October, Sheltra managed to qualify 27th and draft his way into the top-10 before being shuffled in the final laps of the ARCA RE/MAX 250 to cross the line 16th.
Earlier this year in his inaugural Daytona start, Sheltra once again qualified mid-pack but soured to as high as second before being involved in a late race skirmish which relegated Sheltra to a 15th place finish.
Now, returning to the heart of Alabama, Sheltra and his Whitesville, Kentucky-based Sheltra Motorsports team look to redeem themselves restrictor plate style in the next to last event of the 2008 season.
The team brought back the same piece they competed with in the 2008 season opener at Daytona International Speedway. The former Richard Childress Racing (RCR) machine had been previously driven by 2007 Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick.In Wednesday's session, Sheltra recorded the eighth fastest non-drafting lap in his No. 60 Quality Turf-The Casite Company Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, whipping his Grace Sheltra owned automobile to a time of 52.594 seconds at 182.074 miles per hour.
Teams took to the track shortly after 9:00am local time with the complete day of testing ending at 5:00pm local time.
Here are some notes and quotes from today's session:
PATRICK SHELTRA, NO. 60 QUALITY TURF-THE CASITE COMPANY-RACING AGAINST DRUGS (RAD) CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO SS:
PATRICK SHELTRA: (ON TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY) "I'm glad to be back at Talladega. This is such an awesome place. Talladega is the site of my very first restrictor plate track and I'll never forget that. Being back here brings back a lot of memories of last October. I hope we can better those memories with a win in a couple weeks."
SHELTRA: (ON RETURNING TO RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING) "I'm better at it then I was last October, that's for sure. We had a really good competitive car at Daytona and that helped me get in a good rhythm. It's still nerve-racking as a driver, but it's an awful lot of fun too."
SHELTRA: (ON WEDNESDAY'S TEST SESSION) "We're pretty decent. I'm pretty happy with the way the test has gone. We're not exactly at the top of the charts, but the car is real smooth and very neutral. We're not showing all of our horsepower here either, so that the extra horses could be that extra boost to put us near the top in two weeks."
SHELTRA: (DO YOU APPROACH TALLADEGA A LITTLE DIFFERENT, THAN YOU WOULD ANY OTHER ARCA RACE?) "I would like to say no, but I have to say absolutely. Restrictor plate racing is crazy. It's exciting for the fans but it's a race that can literally make or break you. We were luck enough in both restrictor plate races that I've been able to miss the "big one." But you can never tell when and if it will happen. You have to be conservative here, but you also have to be aggressive. You cannot afford to get run-over, but you can't loose the draft either. This is a place that has a lot of dos and don'ts, so your approach here may be a little different than a place like Kentucky Speedway or Toledo Speedway. I think that's why everyone loves Talladega the way they do. "
SHELTRA: (DO YOU PREFER TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY OR DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY?) "Both tracks are great, but Talladega is so smooth that it makes it my favorite restrictor plate track. The characteristics of Talladega provide some great racing for the fans and even the teams. I love having the start-finish line farther than any other track we go to and with the track as smooth as it is, you can adjust your car a lot better than a place like Daytona. Hands down, Talladega is my favorite superspeedway."
SHELTRA: (ON HIS FORMER RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (RCR) PIECE) "We're bringing a good piece. We only brought one car to the test simply because we wanted to make sure that this car would be something we could contend with. We struggled to get the car to draft a little better, but I think we've been able to correct that issue, so I know we have something stout. RCR has always been notorious for building great restrictor plate cars and that fact stands true here at Sheltra Motorsports."
SHELTRA: (HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR ARCA TO COME BACK TO TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY YEAR AFTER YEAR?) "It's really huge. I mean Talladega Superspeedway has so much rich history, I don't think the ARCA RE/MAX Series would be the same if Talladega was missing from the schedule lineup. I know the teams really do enjoy coming here every year. Yeah, there's a lot of pressure to come and run a race like this, but when you take that green flag, all of that goes out the window and you're just glad to competing at a track that some people will never be able to experience first hand."
SHELTRA: (HOW IMPORTANT IS A SPOTTER AT TALLADEGA?) "Without a spotter you are literally dead here. Two, three and even four wide here at Talladega is the norm and my spotter Kevin Huffines is ready to accept that challenge again. He did a phenomenal job at Daytona and kept me out of the big one. He can do it here too. Kevin and I work really well together. He's the perfect spotter for me and I wouldn't want anyone but him up there looking out for me."
SHELTRA: (YOU HAVE A NEW MARKETING PARTNER FOR THIS RACE) "Yeah, we are really stoked about having Quality Turf onboard for the ARCA RE/MAX 250. They are based in Florida and have always had an interest in racing. We're really excited to be hosting them in one of the biggest races of the season. The car will have a new look and they are bringing some guests, so I really hope we can give them a good showing in their first stab in the ARCA RE/MAX Series."
SHELTRA: (POINTS ARE EXTREMLY TIGHT, WHAT CAN AN ARCA RACE AT TALLADEGA SPEEDWAY DO TO YOUR SEASON?) "Destroy it. I'm just being honest. We're in an extremely tights points battle right now, so a good run will benefit us. However, if we have some problems it can cause us a lot of grief. If we encounter problems, we just have to try and overcome them the best way possible. The biggest thing we need to do is walk away without a DNF (Did Not Finish) and hope if we do take a hit, we can recover at Toledo the following week. Bottom line, I'm going to try and not think about points at Talladega. Realistically, there isn't much you can do about it, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time."
SHELTRA: (ON SEASON THUSFAR) "Overall, it's been a solid season. We've run strong but haven't been able to capitalize on some of the runs due to bad luck. We have two runner-up finishes at Toledo and DuQuoin and that just tells you how strong our team is. I'm really proud of my Sheltra Motorsports team. Each week they bring me fast race cars and give 150 percent. I'm going to do my best to bring everyone a victory at Talladega Superspeedway on October 3."