Patrick Sheltra Rockets To Runner-Up Finish At DuQuoin DUQUOIN, Illinois (September 2, 2008) - - Sophomore ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) driver Patrick Sheltra was so close to victory Monday afternoon he could taste it. Unfortunately, a gallant and...
Patrick Sheltra Rockets To Runner-Up Finish At DuQuoin
DUQUOIN, Illinois (September 2, 2008) - - Sophomore ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) driver Patrick Sheltra was so close to victory Monday afternoon he could taste it. Unfortunately, a gallant and commendable late race charge would come up short by one position for Sheltra in the Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Still, the Indiantown, Florida native definitely gave the crowd something to cheer about as the 22-year old driver overcame severe tire wear twice to tie his career best finish and record his second top-five finish of the season.
The one-day show was a memorable one for the Whitesville, Kentucky based Sheltra Motorsports team. Clear skies but billowing steamy temperatures would force the team to keep each other hydrated by the time the lone practice session of the day took the green flag just after 9:00 a.m. local.
Sheltra, still riding high on his impressive UMP dirt late model win on Saturday night at Union County Speedway strapped himself into his Grace Sheltra-owned automobile and took his stab at the 1.0-mile clay oval.
Continuing to move up the leader board, by the end of the first run, Sheltra had worked his way up into the third position. Reporting to crew chief John Hayden of a very stable racecar, the team made a few minor tweaks and changed tires before sending their driver back onto the racetrack.
Sheltra's dirt track skills continued to shine as the No. 60 had moved into the second position behind fellow dirt track expert Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Another minor chassis adjustment and cooling off his camouflage Dodge Charger would prove to be a winning move in the late stages of the practice session. During his final run, Sheltra bolted a fast lap of 34.840 seconds at 103.330 MPH which at that time put the team in position number one, where they remained for 10 minutes. Hayden instructed his talented driver to bring his machine to pit road where they would begin setting up their machine for qualifying. During that time, the track picked up speed with Sheltra settling for ninth overall at the conclusion of the session.
In ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying, Sheltra drew the 28th position setting up for a one-lap bonsai run. Sheltra's lap of 33.716 seconds or 106.774 MPH, a pickup of just over a second from practice would land the avid hunter ninth on the starting grid.
At the start of the Southern Illinois 100, Sheltra quickly began his march. Picking off positions one at a time, Sheltra would continue to climb into the running order and had reached the top-five by lap 15. Eight laps later, the caution flew for an incident involving Michael Phelps. Hayden along with the Sheltra Motorsports bunch took the opportunity to bring their driver down on pit road for two right-side tires and fuel.
Returning to the track solidly in the top-10, Hayden informed his protege that his tires were dead and to take it easy on the next run, so they could be a factor.
Back to racing, Sheltra continued to slowly but steadily pick off his prey and had moved into the top-five just before halfway. Continuing to sport lap times comparable to leader Frank Kimmel, Sheltra found himself comfortably in the second position by lap 60.
Sheltra's worst fear would once again become a reality as while hovering in the runner-up position, his lap times began to drop with Sheltra radioing his team that his tires were going away again. With the tread disappearing, Sheltra found himself backing up in the running order. Sliding from second to eighth, Sheltra needed a caution and he needed one bad. Thankfully, that opportunity came inside twenty laps remaining when the yellow flag waived again for an incident in turn two.
The Sheltra Motorsports team took advantage of the slower pace to slap four new Hoosier tires and a little bit of fuel into their Ferguson Pipe-FloraGanics Dodge Charger with Sheltra exiting the pits in the 10th position.
With not a lot of time and fresh rubber onboard, Sheltra knew that he had an advantage over the rest of his competition and planned to take full benefit of the opportunity. On the restart, Sheltra laid the pedal down hard and quickly began chewing away at his competition. Five laps into the green flag run, Sheltra had moved back into seventh before soaring into the top-five with 12 laps remaining.
Another quick caution inside 10 laps remaining would find Sheltra locking third and eyeing the two leaders of Kimmel and Stenhouse, Jr. Back to green, Sheltra made quick work of the No. 99 of Stenhouse with Sheltra trying to close in on the No. 44 of Kimmel. Tracking him down but running out of time, Sheltra needed another caution to put him at Kimmel's bumper. That opportunity presented himself with just six laps remaining when A.J. Fike made contact with the wall. Now riding second, Sheltra was ready.
Being handed a green-white-checkered finish, Sheltra knew he would have two laps to get around the nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion. On the restart, Sheltra tried to find his way around the Indiana native but to no avail. The white flag flew with Sheltra searching every opportunity to get around the ARCA ace and despite pulling out of line and trying to drag-race Kimmel down the frontstretch, Sheltra would tuck in just before the start-finish line and take home the runner-up position for the first time since May.
"That was a lot of fun," said Sheltra, who completed all 102 circuits. "I thought we would have something for Kimmel, but it took a couple laps for our car to come in and we just didn't have anything for him at the end. We tried. I'm really proud of my guys and thank everyone who supports this race team, especially all of our marketing partners. We're going to try and win one of these things by the end of the year."
After climbing from his car, Sheltra joined race-winner Frank Kimmel by jumping into the lake right behind victory lane as a way of celebrating their one-two finish, but also a good way to cool off. "It was a hot one out there today. Phew. Staying hydrated was the big issue and I did just that. I've never done anything like that (referring to jumping into the lake), but hey there is a first time for everything."
With his seventh top-10 finish of the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season, Sheltra jumped to ninth in the point standings overtaking close friend Ken Butler III. Sheltra is now just 45 markers from eighth and 70 credits from moving into the sixth position.