Patrick Sheltra Storms To First Career ARCA Victory At Salem SALEM, Indiana (April 5, 2009) - - It looked like something out of a Box Office Blockbuster but it was reality when 22-year old Patrick Sheltra surged to his first career victory...
Patrick Sheltra Storms To First Career ARCA Victory At Salem
SALEM, Indiana (April 5, 2009) - - It looked like something out of a Box Office Blockbuster but it was reality when 22-year old Patrick Sheltra surged to his first career victory Sunday afternoon in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 by Federated Car Care at Salem Speedway.
Sheltra in his No. 60 Ferguson Pipe-Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger arrived at Salem Speedway this weekend after surviving a monstrous accident in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in February. Sheltra suffered a compressive fracture of the fourth vertebrae and dislocated knee cap in the incident.
The injuries had threatened Sheltra to be sidelined for the second race of the season. Instead, "Mr. Showtime" arrived at the track more determined than ever and it showed.
Sheltra looking good as new enjoyed a strong practice session Saturday afternoon before delivering a career-best qualifying effort of fourth yesterday afternoon.
At the start of the 200-lap event, Sheltra quickly moved into the third position on lap one and continued to stalk the Eddie Sharp Racing duo of Justin Lofton and Craig Goess, Jr. for much of the event's first quarter. Finally moving around the No. 81 of Goess, Sheltra set his sights on the No. 6 of Lofton.
While running seconds, a pit stop approaching lap 65 allowed the Sheltra Motorsports team to put two right side tires on the No. 60 machine with Sheltra exiting the pits in the third position.
On the restart, Sheltra in Grace Sheltra's owned automobile zoomed past the No. 28 entry of Mike Koch on lap 71 to take the lead. Sheltra controlled the field until lap 104 when the No. 77 of Parker Klingerman who was on fresher tires took the top spot from Sheltra.
Sliding back to third, Sheltra was waiting for a caution where he could make a return trip to pit-road where crew chief John Hayden had four brand new Hoosier tires waiting to be nailed on the green and camouflage machine. That opportunity presented itself near lap 120. The pit crew performed brilliantly allowing Sheltra to return to the track in the 12th position.
From the drop of the restart, Sheltra was a man on a mission slicing and dicing his way through the stout field before finding himself back on the bumper of Lofton's TOYOTA Camry. On lap 151 the Indiantown, Florida native cleverly negotiated around him and never looked back to cross the start-finish line four seconds ahead of Lofton.
It was Sheltra's first ARCA RE/MAX Series victory in 48 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts.
"Oh man, this is awesome," said the jubilant driver from victory lane. "I told everyone we were coming here this weekend to win and we did it spectacular fashion. I cannot begin to tell you how great this victory feels. My guys deserve it, my mom and dad are here, we had fans and friends in the stands and we hosted several people from Buffalo Wings & Rings. It really doesn't get much better than this! It's just awesome!"
Sheltra knew that he had the win in the basket after crew chief John Hayden made an excellent call from the pit box early in the event. "John Hayden is the man. He knew exactly what we needed to do to win this race today and with his leadership we pulled it off as a team," sounded Sheltra.
Sheltra led a career high 84 laps Sunday afternoon. In addition to Sheltra's inaugural victory it was Hayden's first triumph as crew chief. Hayden is a former driver in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. It was also the first win for Sheltra Motorsports on the asphalt surface. Many members of the Sheltra Motorsports enjoyed their first taste of victory circle at the legendary Salem Speedway.
It was a return trip to victory lane for team manager Keith Strunk, who last visited the winner's circle in 2001 with then ARCA driver Damon Lusk.
With the victory, Sheltra advances to third in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship standings just 65 credits behind current leader Lofton. 25 points separate Sheltra from the runner-up spot occupied by Klingerman.