Never Give Up Attitude For Sheltra Motorsports Nets 15th top-10 Of 2010
SALEM, September 19, 2010: ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards driver Patrick Sheltra in the No. 60 PatrickSheltra.com / Ferguson Pipe Dodge Charger netted a sixth place finish in Saturday night’s Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic at the historic Salem (Ind.) Speedway. While the Sheltra Motorsports team barely missed their 11th top-five finish of the year, their effort was solid enough to deliver their seventh top-10 run in the last eight races and 15th top-10 finish overall in 2010.
Nearly a year and a half ago, the Indiantown, Florida native delivered a monstrous performance in April 2009 that awarded the fan-favorite Sheltra with his first career ARCA victory. Itching for the taste of victory again at the Southern Indiana track, Sheltra knew that he would have a tough battle on his hands as he would have to fend off a host of other hungry ARCA Racing Series teams. For a go-getter driver like Sheltra, he was up to the challenge.
In the lone practice on Saturday afternoon, Sheltra maneuvered his Dodge Charger to the 13th fastest lap after whipping his Sheltra Motorsports automobile around the half-mile oval in 17.942 seconds at 111.359 miles per hour. The team fiercely worked on improving the handling of their machine during practice. After making great strides during the hour and a half practice session, the team mutually agreed to make a gear change upon the conclusion of practice and prior to qualifying.
During his Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying lap, Sheltra whipped his green and orange colored hot rod to a lap of 17.545 seconds at 113.878 miles per hour, a pickup of nearly four tenths of a second from his fastest practice lap just an hour and a half earlier. His qualifications run was good enough for ninth fastest overall, his third top-10 start at Salem (Ind.) Speedway in eight contests.
“I cannot say enough about this team,” said Sheltra after qualifying. “We collectively put our heads together and made some changes. The car felt the best it had been all day to this point. Salem’s a tough 200 laps though, so we’re going to put our game face on and hope for the best.”
Immediately from the drop of the green flag, Sheltra picked off one position as he began his climb towards the front. Quickly settling in behind a wad full of race cars, the 24-year old rising star was waiting on the right opportunity to make his move.
The move came on lap 27 when Sheltra, nicknamed “Mr. Showtime” for his exciting driving style made a breathtaking three wide pass in turns one and two passing the No. 44 of Frank Kimmel and the No. 1 of Chad McCumbee and a slower lap machine. The bold move paid off for the NASCAR-bound driver with Sheltra inching his No. 60 machine up the pylon to the sixth position.
The ARCA pro had cracked the top-five by the time the caution waived for an incident in turn two involving Todd Bowsher on lap 50. During the yellow, Sheltra informed crew chief Jon Wolfe that he needed more drive from the center off. Wolfe acknowledged his driver’s request and informed his team to make a chassis adjustment to ease Sheltra’s concern during the first pit stop which occurred two laps later.
A brilliant two-tire stop by the Sheltra Motorsports gang lined their pilot up second on the restart behind fellow championship contender Tom Hessert. Despite a gallant effort to pass the No. 77 Dodge Charger at the start, Sheltra would have to defend his runner-up spot from a gaggle of cars who were trying to negotiate around the No. 60 PatrickSheltra.com / Ferguson Pipe Dodge Charger.
The avid hunter was able to hold his own in second for nearly 50 circuits before losing a position to Dakoda Armstrong on lap 105. A lap later the caution flew again an incident involving Jerick Johnson. The yellow offered a prime chance for the Sheltra Motorsports team to make their scheduled final pit stop of the night where Wolfe had four new Hoosier tires ready, a can of Sunoco Racing fuel and another chassis adjustment to combat the loose condition Sheltra was battling.
Sheltra restarted seventh and quickly maneuvered himself back in the top-five before moving into fourth place on 126 only to have the final caution of the night waive a few circuits later.
On the restart, Sheltra tried once again to challenge Hessert for a podium position but the Cornelius, North Carolina native would have to worry about the plethora of cars behind him not to mention manhandle what was becoming an extremely loose racecar.
Inside the final 30 laps, the No. 25 of Mikey Kile who had been trying to pass the two-time ARCA winner in 2010 for nearly 15 laps eventually made his way around Sheltra on the backstretch for fourth leaving Sheltra battling for a top-five finish with close friend Justin Marks.
The two competitors though would be quickly gobbled up inside the final six laps by the leaders of the event. A extremely tight hole behind second-place finisher Joey Coulter allowed Marks to squeeze past Sheltra with the No. 60 trying to make a cross-over move to retain his lost position from Marks.
Coming to the white flag, Sheltra put additional pressure on himself to pass Marks but also keep seventh place competitor and fellow Floridian Bryan Silas as bay. Unable to pass Marks, Sheltra raced Silas’s No. 11 Ford Fusion hard in turns three and four and the momentum from the high side of the racetrack allowed the former dirt track ace to edge Silas, the Stuart, Florida native to the finish line to grab the sixth position for the second time in 2010. On July 31, Sheltra overcame a series of obstacles including a faulty transmission to finish sixth in the Weis Markets 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.
“Our car unfortunately was just way too loose,” Sheltra admitted. “We fought for every position and as a team we pulled together and were able to put together another solid top-10 finish. I can’t say we’re thrilled with our performance but nonetheless it was a solid night. It’s a team effort and I’m proud of my guys for continuing to give 100 percent week in and week out. We know what we need to do for Kansas and Rockingham and believe me; we’re going to do everything in our power to take home the championship.”
“I want to personally thank Jon (Wolfe), Tommy (Buzze), Rob (Moss) Ryan (Chism), Matt (Roberts), Sam (Schram), Timmy (McKichan), Doug (Kriser), Brandon (Hinson), Richard (Bennett), Keith (Kesula), Mark (Saul), Barry (Thomas), my Mom, my Dad, Chris (Knight) and anyone else I may have missed for helping steer this team towards the 2010 ARCA Racing Series championship. We’re focused now more than ever and I know I would not be in this position without the hard work and dedication of my team!”
With his performance on Saturday night, Sheltra unofficially slipped to second in the championship standings behind Cunningham Motorsports’ Tom Hessert (4300 –to- 4290). Craig Goess who jumped to the point’s lead following his pole at Salem (Ind.) Speedway Saturday afternoon had trouble during the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA and slipped to third but is only 30 markers behind Hessert for the most wanted point’s position in ARCA. Nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel remains in fourth 165 tallies behind. Saturday’s winner Dakoda Armstrong jumps up to the fifth spot trailing the top-spot by 170 points.