Sheltra Resurrects Old Piece; Hoping For Payoff In Championship Bid
TOLEDO, September 10, 2010: With only four races remaining on the 2010 ARCA Racing Series (ARS) presented by RE/MAX and Menards tour, Indiantown, Florida native Patrick Sheltra knows he has to be fully armed and ready for any kind of assault that may come his way. Especially at Toledo Speedway, site of Sunday’s Northwest Ohio Ford Dealers 200.
Sheltra, 24 returns to ARCA’s hometown track on the heels of two wins in the last three races and a fourth place effort in the most recent contest at the Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds. The strong outings has also jumped the Floridian back atop of the championship standings at the very same place he captured the coveted position in May from Justin Marks.
The Cornelius, North Carolina resident would hold onto the championship lead for three races until an engine failure at Iowa Speedway wrenched Sheltra’s dream of becoming the 2010 ARCA Racing Series champion from his arms. Well, at least temporarily.
Call it fate. Call it luck. Oddly enough, Sheltra is back at Toledo Speedway and not only is the avid hunter looking to better his eighth place finish from the Spring, but the NASCAR bound driver is also hoping to pad his championship lead and extend control of the top spot for the next four races, breaking three consecutive races (Toledo, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Michigan International Speedway) where Sheltra Motorsports by virtue of their placement were the top team in the ARCA garage. He is also looking to unleash himself from being tied with Cunningham Motorsports’ pilot Tom Hessert for the most wanted position in the series.
“I’m confident about Toledo this weekend,” said Sheltra, who will make his eighth career start at the half-mile oval on Sunday afternoon. “Toledo overall has been a pretty decent track for me. I know what I have to do this weekend. We have to stay out of trouble, keep our fenders intact and be in contention to win the race. With the momentum that the Sheltra Motorsports team has had lately, accomplishing our goals shouldn’t be a problem.”
Indeed, Toledo has been a decent track for the fan-favorite Sheltra. In his prior seven starts, Sheltra has thundered to two top-fives and four top-10 finishes including dueling with friend Matt Carter in 2008 for their shot at their first career ARCA victory. Sheltra would come up short, just by a nose.
To help Sheltra increase his odds of winning his third race of the season and fourth of his career, Sheltra encouraged crew chief Jon Wolfe to repair the mangled Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS that the ARCA pro raced at Toledo last Spring. After a punt from another competitor, Sheltra spent much of the race in the garage before returning to the race track to salvage a 29th place finish. Sitting in the corner of the Sheltra Motorsports shop in Mooresville, North Carolina for most of the season, the former Richard Childress Racing automobile has been resurrected, repaired and converted from a Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS to a Dodge Charger for Sunday’s highly anticipated slugfest It is the same hotrod that Sheltra blasted to his then career-best finish two years ago.
“Before the car was wrecked last year, it was one of the best short track cars in our fleet,” Sheltra admitted. “We have a lot of good race cars at Sheltra Motorsports but this car always ran well at Toledo Speedway and I know that even with a manufacturer change, we can find ourselves competitive with this car and hopefully battling for the win again like we did in 2008.”
Locked in one of the closest point’s battle in ARCA history, Sheltra knows that every position will be critical not only at Toledo but next weekend at Salem (Ind.) Speedway, then two weeks later at Kansas Speedway before ending his fourth full-time season of ARCA competition at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. Currently, Sheltra and Hessert are tied for first with Craig Goess Jr., just five markers behind in third. Nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel is 50 points in the arrears in fourth with Mikey Kile trailing by 140 credits in fifth.
Mathematically and realistically, Sheltra is aware that a gobble full of drivers still could snatch the title from underneath him. However, he boldly makes a statement that he and his team won’t go down without a fight.
“There’s that saying, it isn’t over until it’s over and that’s what I keep telling myself. We knew we still had a shot at this championship five races ago and look what we were able to do in that span. I know we’re all feeling pressure but the confidence of not only myself but my team will keep us alive and kicking through Rockingham. This is what we’ve been fighting for all year long and we’re going to do everything in our power to stay right were we are.”