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By Team Ford Racing Correspondent

Sumesh Patil watched Formula One and IndyCar races on television in his home near Mumbai, India, as a teenager and couldn't imagine that, in a few years, he would be roaming pit roads at NASCAR speedways across the country.

Yet here he is, working with the Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion team as an engineer, experiencing a dynamic new culture and learning the ropes of Sprint Cup racing at the same time.

Patil left his native India several years ago to attend Clemson University in South Carolina. In the final year of his studies (he was graduated recently with a masters degree in automotive engineering), Patil began blanketing the motorsports industry with applications, hoping to land a spot with a team in a major series.

At the start of the season, while concluding his work at Clemson, Patil, 24, was hired by Front Row. Although he had little knowledge of NASCAR racing (he had no access to the sport via TV in India), Front Row decided to bring him on board to work with driver David Ragan, crew chief Jay Guy and the rest of the 34 crew.

"I wanted to get on with any sort of racing team," Patil said. "I didn't really have NASCAR in mind. The Daytona 500 this year was my first NASCAR race. I had watched a lot of IndyCar races, but I hadn't even seen much of NASCAR.

"Now I'm living the dream. I really like working here."

Patil has been on the road with the team every race week.

"For the first few weeks, there might have been a little bit of a problem with me understanding Southern accents and the guys understanding me," he said. "But now everybody understands everybody."

The team and Ragan have had some fun introducing Patil to American culture and, not incidentally, racing culture. At various stops on the circuit, they've made side trips to New York City and San Francisco, for example, in part to show Patil the ropes.

Ragan participated by having Patil live in his motorhome in the Talladega Speedway infield and by introducing him to the rowdy residents of Talladega Boulevard.

"I wanted to keep him at the track for a weekend to show him around," Ragan said. "But I wasn't too confident that he could wing it by himself. We hung out that evening. I took him down the boulevard and showed him around. We got to see some crazy things, although I'm sure he saw some of that during his college days."

The crew also has had some fun embellishing Patil's resume for some of the people they meet in their travels.

"They've told people I'm a prince back in India," Patil said, smiling.

Ragan said Patil has adjusted well to his work and to his new country.

"The only thing that is the same about Sumesh is that he loves racing," Ragan said. "He really wants to be here. He's from a different background, a different country, a different family, but it's interesting. Sometimes we can learn from people with different backgrounds.

"He came into Front Row really not knowing anything about our sport, our team or really our way of life here. But he's done a good job adapting to new places. He'll be more comfortable the rest of the year as he learns tracks more. He's been able to give Jay some good feedback. The first half of the year was about him learning.

"He's a very, very smart guy, and he has a lot of passion for racing."

Ragan said Patil has blended in well with the digital technology threaded through the sport.

"The sport has taken a turn over the last 10 years to more of an engineering basis where you really have to have a good understanding of simulation models, the CAD program that designs our parts and pieces and how they interact," he said. "He understands that. It's the stuff at the track that he needs to pick up -- like understanding how the rubber on the track changes things, the strategy, the way the cars react; in other words, all the stuff that we take for granted growing up in circle-track racing."

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