Patrick Sheltra & Co. Stout In Kansas; Continue Early Season Strength "Dodge Debut Brings Serious Potential For '08 Season" KANSAS CITY, KANSAS (April 28, 2008) - - Sophomore ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) driver Patrick Sheltra answered his second...
Patrick Sheltra & Co. Stout In Kansas; Continue Early Season Strength
"Dodge Debut Brings Serious Potential For '08 Season"
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS (April 28, 2008) - - Sophomore ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) driver Patrick Sheltra answered his second trip to Kansas Speedway with a strong top-10 finish in last Friday's Kansas Lottery $150 Grand. With the finish, Sheltra continues to prove that he is a serious contender for the 2008 championship chase aboard his No. 60 automobiles.
Arriving in Kansas, Sheltra and his Whitesville, Kentucky based Sheltra Motorsports team unloaded a Dodge Charger, the first of a minimum of 10 events this season that the Sheltra team will carry the Chrysler nameplate. In addition to unloading the former Penske Racing machine, the team also unveiled a camouflage paint scheme and a new marketing partner, Aaron's Outdoors.
[IMAGE]In the first one-day show of the season, Sheltra would prove that testing at the 1.5-mile facility earlier this month paid off. When the cross-flags were thrown in the lone practice session of the day, Sheltra had claimed the 12th position after spending much of the session in the top-seven. Sheltra's lap of 31.996 seconds at 168.771 MPH was delivered early in the session compared to many of his competitor's late runs.
"We parked it early," Sheltra explained. "We know that we have a good car. We didn't make a real mock-qualifying effort, simply because we know that we're going to be strong. There was a lot of traffic out there during practice, so I was happy to turn the lap that we did. It was nice to start off the day with a strong practice."
Drawing an early draw for ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying would usually hinder ARCA RE/MAX Series teams but thanks to overcast conditions, the team felt confident heading into time trials.
Sheltra's fastest qualification lap of 31.425 seconds at 171.838 MPH would throw the No. 60 Dodge Charger to the outside pole and remain there for much of the session before sliding down the grid to eighth. Sheltra wasn't going to complain though as his efforts awarded the dirt ace with a career-best qualifying effort. Ironically, Kansas Speedway holds the same award from a year earlier when the then rookie lined up his No. 60 Chevrolet ninth.
"I didn't leave anything on the table," Sheltra said. "John (Hayden, crew chief) and the entire Sheltra Motorsports team did a great job preparing the Aaron's Outdoors Dodge Charger. It feels good to start in the top-10 and no doubt that makes our job to get to front a little easier."
At the start of the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand, Sheltra wasted no time diving to the front. By lap two, Sheltra had picked up two positions and ran sixth for much of the event's first quarter. During the first 30 circuits of the event, Sheltra's Dodge would turn extremely competitive laps but also developed a serious tight condition.
Despite the tightness, Sheltra had climbed into the top-five on lap 30 and continued to hover inside the lead pack until the first caution flag.
Sheltra reported to Crew Chief John Hayden and Team Manager Keith Strunk that his automobile was tight from the center off. Hayden called for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment on the first pit stop.
Bringing his machine to pit road, Sheltra's bunch went to work slapping on four new Hoosier tires, adding Sunoco Racing fuel and took two rounds out of the left rear hoping to correct the tightness. Sheltra gained one position in the pits and would restart fourth.
By lap 56, Sheltra had rose to third but continued to inform his team that the tightness had returned with a vengeance. Hayden informed his driver to keep digging and his lap times were among the fastest on the track.
A caution on lap 58 allowed Sheltra to regain his composure and prepare for the final forty circuits of the 100-lap event. On the restart, Sheltra blasted like a rocket taking the lead which he would hold for four laps and the first time in his ARCA career.
Quickly the tightness would return and Sheltra would be forced to relinquish the lead and fall into the top-three.
Falling back into the fifth position with three quarters of the race complete, Sheltra was bound and determined to keep his No. 60 Dodge Charger up front until a caution on lap 90 would bring the Indiantown, Florida native back down pit road.
Hayden again called for four tires and fuel. Sheltra returned to the track in the top-dozen setting up for a 10-lap shootout.
On the restart, Sheltra bolted from the 12th position and worked his way to ninth before a spinning Ryan Fischer brought out the caution. Frustrated with the late-race cautions Sheltra knew he had a car capable of finishing in the top-five, just needed some green flag laps.
On the final run of the day, Sheltra began his maneuver towards the top-five and had inched his way to fourth before being trapped behind the No. 90 TOYOTA of Gabi DiCarlo. The hold-up would cost Sheltra several positions and laps before overtaking DiCarlo on lap 98.
A gallant effort to catch the other "Aaron's" TOYOTA of Ken Butler III would come up short yielding a satisfying but disappointing eighth place finish.
"I'm thrilled with our performance today, but not with our finish," said Sheltra following the race. "Not real sure what happened with Gabi (DiCarlo) but it cost us a bunch. We had a car that should have finished in the top-five, but we had to take eighth. It's good and bad all in one. Man, we just had a good car and should have been finished fourth. I think everyone knows that our both our Chevrolet and Dodge programs are strong and it's not expected to change as the series progresses on. I'm looking forward to Kentucky here in a couple weeks."
Sheltra added, "In the four races this year, we've run in the top-10 in all of them. We have two top-10s and a worst finish of 15th. Not to bad, but all the credit goes to the Sheltra Motorsports team. They give me good racecars each week and make my job a lot easier. Hopefully Rockingham next brings another good weekend for us."
Sheltra concluded by saying, "I want to thank Aaron's Outdoors for coming on-board for this race. I'm glad that both Aaron's machines posted top-10 finishes."
With his seventh career top-10 finish last Friday, Sheltra advances to fifth in points, just five markers behind fourth place runner Scott Speed. 95 markers separate Sheltra from the point's lead now held by SunTrust Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Matt Carter.