Patrick Sheltra Says Welcome To My Turf Heading Into Springfield "Driver & Team Confident First Win Could Come Sunday Afternoon" SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 14, 2008) - - Fresh off recording his sixth top-10 finish of the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX...
Patrick Sheltra Says Welcome To My Turf Heading Into Springfield
"Driver & Team Confident First Win Could Come Sunday Afternoon"
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 14, 2008) - - Fresh off recording his sixth top-10 finish of the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) last Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway, the ARS shifts gears and venues and heads to the dirt for the first of two consecutive clay events this season. First up, the Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds Sunday afternoon.
Heading into the 15th race of the season, it's no surprise that Sheltra, the 22-year old sophomore ARCA RE/MAX Series driver is a pre-race favorite and for good reason. Sheltra's background in Motorsports hails on the dirt and while the move to asphalt has been a positive direction for Sheltra, the dirt is still his "first love."
Returning to ARCA's version of the dirt for the third time in his ARCA career, the Indiantown, Florida native returns to the Illinois State Fairgrounds looking to improve on his ARCA dirt debut which saw the No. 60 Chevrolet Monte Carlo start ninth after qualifying was rained out and storm to the front to record a then career best finish of third.
Earlier this year, Sheltra finished second at Toledo Speedway which jives up the confidence in any driver but Sheltra wants to win. He wants to win bad. And what a perfect place Springfield would be to accomplish the feat Sunday afternoon.
"I'm ready to go, I could climb in the car and go racing now," said the enthusiastic Sheltra. "Obviously, I've been counting down the days to this race. I'm relaxed, I'm feeling good, I'm just ready to climb in the car and go."
Sheltra continued, "We had a good run at Springfield last year, third place in my first dirt ARCA race, I was comfortable with that. This year it's a different ball game. Our Sheltra Motorsports team is capable of winning and this is the prime place for us to shine. We plan to make the best of it."
"Running on the dirt in these 3400-pound cars is nothing like what I'm accustomed to in the late models," explained the avid hunter. "However, the driving style doesn't really change that much. Sure you have to adapt but it's pretty much the same concept which is an advantage to me. There are some other dirt track specialists that will be competing this weekend, so it's not going to a run-away show by any means, but I can tell you this, we expect to be up front and we hope to be the first car that takes the checkered flag."
For the eighth time this season, Sheltra and his Whitesville, Kentucky based Sheltra Motorsports operation will bring a Dodge Charger to the track. With four top-10s already in the books under the Dodge banner, the team is hoping to record their first top-five under the Chrysler nameplate. The team answered their inaugural debut with Dodge with a respectable eighth place finish at Kansas Speedway. A week later the team proved that the finish was no fluke as Sheltra steered through late race carnage and confusion at Kentucky Speedway to record an seventh place finish. In June, Sheltra mounted his best finish in a Charger after recording a sixth place finish at the two-mile oval of Michigan International Speedway. Most recently, Sheltra battled back from adversity to nail a 10th place finish in the TOYOTA ARCA 150 at Nashville Superspeedway last weekend. The new manufacturer also catapulted Sheltra to record a career best qualifying effort (Kansas) while also leading the field for four laps at the 1.5-mile race track of Kansas Speedway.
The move from Chevrolet to Dodge for this weekend's festivities may raise some eyebrows but Sheltra isn't looking back but moving forward with confidence on his side.
"Our Dodge program has been stellar this year," sounded Sheltra. "We had a good Chevrolet last year on the dirt. But to keep up with the competition, we felt like the Dodge Charger offers a better advantage and that extra push to run even better than we did last year. The car is good and we have a good setup underneath it, so I'm good."
Crew Chief John Hayden has elected to bring Sheltra Motorsports chassis number 7 to the Illinois State Fairgrounds this weekend. This is the same automobile the team participated with at USA International Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Gateway International Raceway and The Milwaukee Mile last year. The team converted the former Dale Earnhardt, Inc. automobile to a Dodge Charger during the off-season. Chassis number 4 will serve as the team's backup automobile. This car has not run in 2008 but is the same piece that Sheltra ran in both ARCA dirt events last year in addition to a top-five finish at Berlin Raceway last July.
Despite setting a new personal season record last weekend at Nashville, Sheltra slipped back to 10th in ARCA RE/MAX Series championship points but is just a mere 25 markers from settling back into ninth. With just seven races remaining on the race calendar, Sheltra knows every point counts and this is a race that the Sheltra Motorsports team could make a huge dent.
"The series has been so competitive this year so it seems like even if you run good you can't make up a lot of ground because everyone else is running well. It's a lot different from last year. This weekend is a race we can gain some serious ground in and while the win is important to us, inching forward in the standings is just as crucial."