Patrick Sheltra Showcases Short Track Talent At Toledo
Topics: Patrick Sheltra, Hantz Group 200
TOLEDO, Ohio (October 16, 2007) - - ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) rookie driver Patrick Sheltra started off the 2007 year on the wrong foot but the 21-year old hot shoe ended the season on a extremely high note with a very impressive eighth place finish in Sunday’s Hantz Group 200 presented by Belle Tire.
The Sheltra Motorsports team led by crew chief John Hayden and team manger Keith Strunk invaded the half-mile bullring looking to rebound from a tough finish in the spring, but the team knew they were coming full force as the organization unveiled a brand new short track car purchased by Richard Childress Racing.
“I know everything thinks we were crazy to bring a brand new car to Toledo , but we wanted to be competitive and we had to have a car that was built for short tracks and this one was,” said Sheltra prior to the long practice session of the weekend.
Heading towards his second career start at ARCA’s home turf, Sheltra was banking on the team’s setup to guide him through a clean but respectable practice session. During the hour and a half session, Sheltra posted the 21st fastest lap with a time of 17.226 seconds or 104.493 MPH. “We’re not bad, but we’re sandbagging a little bit,” remarked Sheltra. “We’re focusing on race runs. We know it’s important to qualify up front but we think no matter where we start we have a car that can move forward quickly.”
Making some minor adjustments, Sheltra headed into ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying optimistic. Punching out a lap of 17.005 seconds at 105.851 MPH, Sheltra would ironically find himself 21st on the starting grid for the season finale.
“I said it earlier; I think the car is going to run strong in the race. That’s about where I thought we would qualify. The boys on the Sheltra Motorsports team have done a phenomenal job of making sure this car is in tip-top shape for tomorrow’s race, so I have no worries. I’m just going to drive the car like I stole it,” sounded Sheltra.
Warmer weather conditions greeted the teams on Sunday a day after blistering cold temperatures kept the teams in sweatshirts and heated race haulers. After meeting and greeting with fans for nearly an hour and a half before the race, Sheltra would put on his helmet and build himself into competition mode.
At the start of the Hantz Group 200, Sheltra blasted out of the pack like a rocket ship. Quickly finding himself in the top-20, the Indiantown, Florida native radioed to his crew that his machine was fast and he was biding his time but overtaking positions he could grab.
When the first caution flag waived on lap 12, Sheltra had moved up to the 17th position. On the restart, the multi-colored and bright No. 60 Chevrolet Monte Carlo began studying its prey looking for the best way to maneuver past his closest competition.
The race would settle into a fair amount of green flag racing with Sheltra continuing to march through the leader board and move into the 11th position by the time the next caution flag waived approaching lap 54.
While some teams elected to pit, the Sheltra Motorsports team decided to stay out and use track position to their advantage.
Restarting in the top-10, Sheltra would continue to move up the leader board and sit eighth just after halfway when the yellow flag waived which allowed the lead pack to their lone trip to pit road. The Sheltra Motorsports team bolted on four new Hoosier tires while adding Sunoco Racing fuel. The driver called for no adjustments and the group returned to racing action strongly inside the top-10.
Over the next sixty laps, Sheltra would flirt with the top-10 before bolting into the top-five approaching lap 150. Able to see leaders Michael McDowell, James Buescher and Frank Kimmel, Sheltra would use traffic to his advantage to cut his distance from the lead pack to nearly inches.
Trying to thrust himself into the lead, Sheltra would be pinned by the No. 66 which allowed a strong line of outside cars to overtake the No. 60 with Sheltra falling in line in fifth place.
Still in a tight group of competition, Sheltra would try to return to the front pack but the driver would also have to fend off a strong group of challengers from behind.
Inside twenty laps to go, as Sheltra headed down the backstretch, the No. 22 nailed Sheltra going into turn three which forced the No. 60 to spin and make contact with the wall. Frustrated, Sheltra refired his machine and joined the leaders under the caution flag.
Under the yellow, Sheltra showed his displeasure to the No. 22 by pulling up alongside Ken Butler III and venting his frustration. Sheltra would soon withdrawal his anger and head down pit road where the Sheltra Motorsports team surveyed the minimal damage and sent their driver back into competition.
Starting outside the top-10, Sheltra would quickly take off on the restart and immediately return to the top-10. The caution flag would waive a few laps later as Butler III went for a spin down the backstretch.
Under the caution flag, Sheltra asked his crew what position he was in. The team radioed back ninth with the talented driver vowing to his team that he would try to gain a few more spots.
Restarting the race inside five laps to go, Sheltra picked off the No. 4 of Ray Mooi, Jr which allowed Sheltra to grab eighth and cross the checkered flag.
It was Sheltra’s fifth top-10 finish of the season.
After the race, Sheltra climbed from his car and darted over to the No. 22 pit to speak with Butler III about the incident. The two spoke peacefully but got their prospective point’s acrossed.
“It was a good day for the Sheltra Motorsports, but it could have been a whole lot better. We should have been sitting in the top-five but we made a nice recovery from the spin and were able to put ourselves back in the top-10, so I’m ecstatic about that. This was a new car to us and it performed awesome. We never made any adjustments on the car all day long and I’m just tickled to death with our performance. I think everyone knew we were here.”
When asked about his incident with the No. 22, Sheltra offered, “That is the second time in three races that he has gotten together with us and both times we were all running very strong. It’s disappointing that patience goes out the window inside twenty laps to go. It’s just plain frustrating and not fair. We should have been finished around fourth or fifth but instead had to settle for eighth. It sucks, that’s the bottom line.”
With his strong performance on Sunday, Sheltra locked the seventh position in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship standings while also rewarding his mother Grace Sheltra with a top-10 performance in the owner’s standings. The duo will accept their awards at the ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship Awards Banquet at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington , Kentucky on Saturday, December 8.
“We’ve had a good season. It started out a little rough, but we worked hard and it awarded us with a solid finish in the point standings. We’re coming back next year and looking to give no mercy, so I’m not worried, we’re going to be a threat, I promise you that.”
In addition to accepting their awards at the ARS Championship Awards Banquet the team will also formally announce their 2008 plans with new additions at the annual press conference the prelude to the banquet.
Continuing their sponsorship of Sheltra's No. 60 entry this past weekend was CP Concrete Products, US Construction, SawHorse Outfitters, Brady Ranch and FloraGanics.
For more on Patrick Sheltra, please visit PatrickSheltra.com
NAME: Chris Knight, Sheltra Motorsports
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