Climbing back behind the wheel of a racecar at Daytona International Speedway feels like a victory in itself for Patrick Sheltra. Sheltra, the Indiantown, Florida native was involved in one of the scariest looking accidents in the ARCA RE/MAX...
Climbing back behind the wheel of a racecar at Daytona International Speedway feels like a victory in itself for Patrick Sheltra. Sheltra, the Indiantown, Florida native was involved in one of the scariest looking accidents in the ARCA RE/MAX Series history at Daytona International Speedway in February. The incident inside the season opener's final 10 circuits nearly ended what is turning out to be a promising career for the 23-year old phenom.
Thursday afternoon, Sheltra in the No. 81 D.H. Griffin-Quality Turf-Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger for MacDonald Motorsports participated in the first of two NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) practices setting the early adrenaline for tomorrow night's Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca-Cola. Sheltra will make just his third career Nationwide start and first for MacDonald Motorsports at the "World Center of Racing."
Piloting his red and white machine around the historic 2.5-mile speedway, Sheltra maneuvered his automobile to the 25th fastest lap posting a time of 49.650 seconds transferring to a speed of 181.269 miles per hour. Sheltra's fastest lap occurred on his eighth of 18 attempts around the Daytona Beach speed plant.
The No. 81 is plastered with D.H. Griffin Company, Quality Turf of Okeechobee and Buffalo Wings & Rings whom are all boasting their logos for tomorrow night's Holiday race spectacle.
Here are some notes and quotes from today's session:
PATRICK SHELTRA, NO. 81 D.H. GRIFFIN-QUALITY TURF OF OKEECHOBEE-BUFFALO WINGS & RINGS DODGE CHARGER
SHELTRA: (ON THURSDAY'S FIRST PRACTICE SESSION) "I'm pretty satisfied. We're in the mix of the group. We didn't get ourselves in a big draft but the car drafts and I think it's strong on the single-car runs, so I'm pretty satisfied overall. We're going to tweak the car a little bit for the second practice and see what she'll deliver."
SHELTRA: (ON BEING BACK IN A CAR FOR THE FIRST TIME AT DAYTONA SINCE THE ACCIDENT) "It feels good to be back in a car at Daytona. I don't remember much about the accident but I've watched videos and talked to a lot of people about it. I still know today I'm very lucky to be here but I wanted to prove to everyone and myself that I wasn't afraid to race here again and I'm definitely looking forward to tomorrow's race."
SHELTRA: (ON WORKING WITH THE MACDONALD MOTORSPORTS TEAM) "I can't say enough about Randy MacDonald's bunch. They aren't my guys, but they have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable. I'm enjoying working with David (Ingram, crew chief) and consulting with John Hayden, my ARCA crew chief, who's serving as my driver coach this weekend. We're striving to make this team as a whole better for the race tomorrow night. Just like the Sheltra Motorsports team, these guys seem real dedicated and you can't ask for much more than that."
SHELTRA: (WERE YOU DRAFTING VERY HARD?) "Not really. We only have one good superspeedway car, so we wanted to make sure the car would draft good but not push the issue. If you draft hard today, you might just not be around tomorrow if you know what I mean. I'm happy though with the car the team has prepared, I think our chances are looking good."
SHELTRA: (WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FINAL PRACTICE?) "Handling is going to be critical tomorrow night, so that's our biggest fight right now. In order to stay near the front and keep in contention, you have to keep your car handling in the right direction. That's what we are focusing on and will continue to work on right up until qualifying tomorrow."
SHELTRA: (IS THERE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARCA RE/MAX SERIES PLATE RACING AND NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES PLATE RACING?) "Not really. The cars are a little different but the object is the same and the speeds are nearly identical. Something that may be a little bit different tomorrow night than any other of my prior ARCA RE/MAX Series races here at Daytona; I'll be a busy guy. In ARCA, you're used to some side-by-side racing, but here I think you are going to see two and three wide racing all night long. I don't think there will be a lot of chances to relax (laughs)."
SHELTRA: (ON RACING WITH DRIVERS LIKE DALE EARNHARDT, JR, KYLE BUSCH, JOEY LOGANO, DAVID GILLILAND AND MICHAEL WALTRIP?) "It's an honor to be here and be able to race with those guys. I'm hoping to learn a lot from them but at the same time, I'm hoping they will respect me tomorrow night and have the faith in me as a drafting partner tomorrow night. I know having friends is going to be really important. I know I have some friends out there right now but the objective is to make a few more."
SHELTRA: (ON RACING AGAIN WITH FORMER ARCA DRIVERS JUSTIN ALLGAIER, MATT CARTER, BOBBY GERHART MIKE HARMON, MICHAEL MCDOWELL AND JOHN WES TOWNLEY) "It's been refreshing to walk through the Nationwide garage and bump into guys like Justin, Matt, Bobby and Mike. Honestly, all of the ARCA graduates have good racecars for the race tomorrow, so I'm hoping we can connect together and take the "ARCA" train to the front."
SHELTRA: (WHERE DO YOU WANT TO QUALIFY TOMORROW AFTERNOON?) "You know, I would be really satisfied with a top-15 qualifying run tomorrow afternoon. The team has always had a good qualifying record with this car in the past and we want to continue that trend for sure on Friday. I think if we are able to accomplish our mission, we'll be in good shape for the race."
SHELTRA: (ON HIS GOALS FOR THE RACE) "Finishing the race. I've finished both my two other races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and I surely want to make it three-for-three. The race is going to be intense tomorrow night but we want to find ourselves in the hunt for the final 50 miles. Staying out of the big one and attracting the best finish possible for our marketing partners and MacDonald Motorsports is my number one priority tomorrow night."
Sheltra has two consecutive ARCA RE/MAX Series starts at Daytona International Speedway resulting in two top-15 finishes. Despite his harrowing incident in February, Sheltra was credited with a 14th place finish, one position better than the team's 15th place performance at DIS in February 2008.
The Subway Jalapeno 250 powered by Coca-Cola (100 laps / 250 miles) is the 17th of 35 events on the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule. The Fourth of July spectacle race is a two-day show. Practice begins Thursday, July 2 with a final practice session etched in on Thursday night from 5:30 p.m. -- 6:25 p.m. Qualifying is set for Friday, July 3rd set to roll off at 1:05 p.m. The event will take the green flag shortly after 8:00 p.m. The event will televised live on ESPN with a pre-race show scheduled to lift off at 7:30 p.m. Additional race coverage will be available through the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and Sirius satellite radio channel 128 also launching at 8:00 p.m. All times are local.