Patrick Sheltra Delivers Thrilling Effort At Daytona; Finishes Fifth "Sheltra Makes Run At First Superspeedway Win; Comes Up A Little Short" DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 7, 2010) - - While much of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona...
Patrick Sheltra Delivers Thrilling Effort At Daytona; Finishes Fifth
"Sheltra Makes Run At First Superspeedway Win; Comes Up A Little Short"
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 7, 2010) - - While much of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway was focused on IZOD IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick stock-car debut, Indiantown, Florida native Patrick Sheltra gave her exposure a run for the money and thanks to an impressive performance he was able to deflect some of the exposure and create some buzz at the "World Center of Racing."
After practicing in the top-10 on Thursday, Sheltra qualified his No. 60 PowerTrac Machinery Dodge Charger into the 11th position on Friday morning. Rain forced the cancellation of final practice Friday evening but the Sheltra Motorsports team led by veteran Crew Chief Jon Wolfe were confident in their machine.
At the start of the season opener, Sheltra quickly positioned himself into the top-10 and had began tucking his way through the running order before on lap five, the No. 60 machine broke loose in turn three with "Mr. Showtime" as he's called in the garage making a brilliant save. A lap later, a multi-car crash ensued behind Sheltra which took out several of the race's top-contenders.
During the caution, Sheltra radioed to his team that his car was fast but "loose" and needed some help with grip. Wolfe acknowledged his request and informed his pilot that he would make an adjustment on the next stop.
The event would be plagued early on with caution after caution. Sheltra became agitated with all the yellows as he felt like he had a car capable of powering to the front.
Close to the half-way mark, Sheltra made his lone trip to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The Mooresville, North Carolina based crew did a great job with the stop but Sheltra found himself blocked in his pit by another competitor. The hiccup cost him a couple positions on pit road.
No worries though, Sheltra was bound and determined to retain those lost positions back and gain a few more in the process. Several impressive and thrilling passes throughout the second half of the race, caused the fans in the stands and announcers to gasp, Sheltra though found himself back in the top-three inside the final 10 laps of the event.
While his team and friends quickly recalled the outcome of last year's event, they had no time to fret -- as Sheltra began setting up his prey ahead of him -- vying to maneuver his car to the lead and what would have been the biggest win of his racing career.
With two laps remaining, Sheltra ducked to the outside with little help -- hoping to get additional help to draft to the lead. With many of the cars electing to stay glued to the bottom -- Danica Patrick did everything she could to attach her car to the bumper of the No. 60 but it was a little too late. Sheltra would come to the checkered flag battling the No. 51 of pole sitter James Buescher side-by-side with the Toyota of Buescher just edging out Sheltra's Dodge to the line awarding the 23-year old driver with his second-career top-five finish at a superspeedway.
In 2008, Sheltra found himself in contention for the win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway but a late-race shuffle while leading knocked him back into the fifth position.
"That was a lot of fun," said Sheltra, climbing from his racecar. "We had an excellent car, we just needed some help. It just seemed like no one wanted to go to the outside. Our car could go out there but it just seemed like everyone wanted to stay on the bottom. Next time I see Terry Jones -- I'm going to buy him a drink or something. He came out of nowhere and gave us a huge shove late in the race and that really gave us the momentum to try and steal the show."
He added, "We had to make a move to try and win the race. This is an important race for us and I think we made the best of it. Thanks to Jon (Wolfe, crew chief) and the guys for their flawless efforts all week. We are extremely thankful to PowerTrac for coming onboard for the race and all of our other marketing partners for their commitment to our race team. I definitely had my co-pilot aboard (referring to Nicholas Batchelor). Nicholas this race is for you!"
As far as Danica Patrick's effort -- Sheltra noted, "You know what, she did a great job. I know she learned a lot about the draft and she raced everyone pretty clean. It seemed like she was always around me. She even tried to help me there in the end -- and I appreciate that. It would not surprise me if she decided to run the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona. I think she'll do fine."
Unofficially, Sheltra sits fifth in the ARCA Racing Series championship standings, the highest points start in his four seasons of competition. Just 30 points separate Sheltra from the lead held by Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart. Sheltra could easily take the top-spot by competing in the upcoming ARCA Racing Series 150 at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway as the competitors ahead of him are not expected to run a full-season.
Exiting Daytona, Sheltra has 68 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards starts to his credit with one career victory at Salem Speedway (April 2009). During his ARCA tenure, Sheltra has accumulated 11 top-fives and posted 23 top-10 finishes. A third place qualifying effort at Rockingham Speedway (April 2009) is Sheltra's best time trials efforts to date. He has controlled the ARCA field five times for 109 laps.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series is an open-test at Palm Beach (Fla.) International Raceway on Monday, February 8. The eight-hour test is a preamble to the second event of the 2010 season set for Saturday, February 27, 2010.
-source: sheltra motorsports