Iowa: Patrick Sheltra preview

Patrick Sheltra Looks To Resurrect Season At Iowa "Sheltra Motorsports To Also Pay Tribute To Matt Hawkins In Prairie Meadows 200" NEWTON, Iowa (July 8, 2009) - - It's not a secret that Patrick Sheltra and his Sheltra Motorsports team have ...

Patrick Sheltra Looks To Resurrect Season At Iowa

"Sheltra Motorsports To Also Pay Tribute To Matt Hawkins In Prairie Meadows 200"

NEWTON, Iowa (July 8, 2009) - - It's not a secret that Patrick Sheltra and his Sheltra Motorsports team have suffered disappointment in the last two ARCA RE/MAX Series events at Michigan International Speedway and Mansfield Motorsports Park but after a break to catch their breath and refocus, the team heads to Iowa Speedway looking to put themselves back in victory circle in Saturday night's Prairie Meadows 200.

The finishes have the team down but not out. With the half-way mark quickly approaching the teams for the 2009 ARCA season, the Whitesville, Kentucky team feels that they've experienced their fair share of bad luck and hope that Iowa resurrects their season and puts the No. 60 Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger up front and in contention.

Sheltra and Co. participated in the open test at Iowa Speedway last week and while the team led by crew chief John Hayden struggled for much of the day, the third year ARCA team hit the jackpot late in the eight hour test and found a setup they feel will put the team back in victory lane since taking the top honors at Salem Speedway in April.

"We're ready for Iowa. We hope Iowa is ready for us," said Sheltra, who made his third career NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Daytona International Speedway last Friday night. "We've experienced some foul luck as of late. It has rattled the team's confidence but we are one of the hardest working team in the ARCA garage and we will get through this spell of bad luck and put this team back in contention mode."

The Indiantown, Florida native added, "The Iowa test turned out to be a success for us," Sheltra said. "We were fighting ourselves for most of the day but then we threw the bathroom sink at the car and it worked. We know where we need to start when we have practice on Friday afternoon, so I think you'll find the Buffalo Wings & Rings car fast right off the truck."

Sheltra has two prior ARCA RE/MAX Series starts at the .875-mile track with a best effort of ninth occurring in last year's Prairie Meadows 250. While some would be happy with a top-10 run, Sheltra wasn't satisfied which prompted the team to partake in the ARCA sanctioned test.

"The cancellation of the ARCA race at Cayuga was a blessing in disguise," sounded Sheltra. "Because of the hectic schedule we weren't going to test at Iowa but because of the race getting dropped, we concentrated all of our efforts on the Iowa test. We've been good at Iowa in the past but not great. This year you have to be great to finish in the top-five. Testing at Iowa last week should pay off for us in a big way."

Currently occupying the eighth position, the lowest spot since holding the 14th position after Daytona, Sheltra seeks his fourth top-five finish of the season to gain some points to inch up the ladder in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Championship chase.

"There's still a long way to go and Iowa presents a opportunity for us to starting reeling in the points we lost," mentioned Sheltra. "You have to think of Iowa like any other short track, surviving. Iowa can be forgiving but you have to keep all the fenders on the car and stay out of the mess. If we can do that, we should be rewarded all the way around."

While Sheltra is focused with the agenda on hand this weekend, Sheltra and his posse are also reflecting and remembering last year's Prairie Meadows 250 winner Matt Hawkins who died of an accidental gun discharge in February. Hawkins and Sheltra raced together during the course of the 2008 season and Sheltra misses the competitiveness that Hawkins brought to the table.

To offer their remembrance, the team will carry a decal "In Memory of Matt Hawkins" this weekend at Iowa.

"Matt Hawkins was a great racecar driver," offered Sheltra. "We raced several times together last year and while we raced each other extremely hard, we never touched. He was a great competitor for the ARCA RE/MAX Series and we miss seeing his face at the track. We're going to try and win the race this weekend for our marketing partners but also in honor of Matt as well."

Crew Chief John Hayden has elected to bring Sheltra chassis number 11 to Iowa Speedway this weekend. The primary machine will be the same Dodge that Sheltra wheeled to a podium finish of third at Pocono Raceway last month. The former Penske Racing automobile will be run for just the fourth time in Sheltra's ARCA career. Chassis number 16 will serve as the team's back-up automobile. That former Richard Childress Racing entry is a new addition to the team's fleet. The Whitesville, Kentucky based team tested this Dodge Charger at Michigan International Speedway in May. It has yet to see any ARCA race competition.

Entering Iowa, Sheltra has 55 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts to his credit with one career victory at Salem Speedway (April 2009). During his ARCA tenure, Sheltra has accumulated nine top-fives and posted 18 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.

The Prairie Meadows 200 (200 laps / 175 miles) is the 10th of 21 events on the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. The fourth ever ARCA race at Iowa Speedway is a two-day show. Practice begins Friday July 10 with an hour and half practice session planned from 4:30 p.m. -- 6:00 p.m. Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying is set for Saturday, July 11 slated to begin at 4:00 p.m. The event will take the green flag shortly after 8:00 p.m. The event will not be televised however flag-to-flag coverage will be broadcasted live through the ARCA Racing Network (ARN) online at arcaracing.com. All times are local.

-credit: sm

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers John Hayden , Patrick Sheltra
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Team Penske