In a field filled with current and former NASCAR Nextel Cup stars, J.R. Patton was able to avoid the wrecks that plagued the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) Kroger 200 at Martinsville Saturday to bring home an 18th-place finish.
“That was intense!” said a weary Patton. “I had gotten so used to driving the big tracks, I had forgotten what the short tracks could be like. But that was a lot of fun. Fortunately, I was able to stay out of the accidents and, for the most part, keep the fenders on it.”
Patience was the name of the game Saturday for Patton, racing in his fourth race in the Fiddle Back Racing #67 Ford. “My spotter (Todd Meyers) did an outstanding job,” he said. “At this level, racing a track like Martinsville can be overwhelming, especially when you look at the talent level in the trucks around me. But he (Meyers) did a great job keeping me calm and keeping me aware of what was happening around me.”
Next on the schedule for the Truck Series is the Chevy Silverado 150 at the Phoenix International Raceway Friday, Nov. 5, a race Patton is looking forward to. “Being from New Mexico,” he said, “I’ll have a ton of friends and family cheering me on at the race in Phoenix. With the way this Ford F-150 has been running and with the way my guys have been busting their butts to get me in and out of the pits quicker every week, we’re going to have one heck of a show to put on.”
Patton will finish out the 2004 NCTS season with Fiddle Back Racing, but as of yet, nothing has been finalized for the 2005 season. “Right now, I can’t worry about next year,” said the 2003 NASCAR Southwest Tour rookie of the year. “I’m focusing on each race to give (Fiddle Back Racing owner) Tom (Eldredge) the best possible finishes. He put a lot of faith in me by putting me in his equipment and hopefully, I can pay him back with some good finishes.”