Patrick Sheltra Back On Track; Grabs Podium Finish At Springfield "Mr. Showtime Grabs 10th Career Top-Five In 60th Career ARCA Start" SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 24, 2009) - - Patrick Sheltra didn't score his second career ARCA RE/MAX Series...
Patrick Sheltra Back On Track; Grabs Podium Finish At Springfield
"Mr. Showtime Grabs 10th Career Top-Five In 60th Career ARCA Start"
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 24, 2009) - - Patrick Sheltra didn't score his second career ARCA RE/MAX Series (ARS) victory Sunday afternoon at the Illinois State Fairgrounds but the Indiantown, Florida native did rack up his second top-three finish at the Springfield, Illinois track giving his Sheltra Motorsports team some much needed and welcomed momentum heading into the homestretch of the 2009 season.
Considered one of the best dirt late model drivers in the South, Sheltra arrived for round number 14 of his 2009 ARCA schedule on the prowl and ready to put his No. 60 Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger back in contention.
"I've been looking forward to Springfield all year," said Sheltra on Sunday morning. "I know the guys have been pumped up about this race too; hopefully everything will go our way for a change."
When the track opened for practice on Sunday morning, Sheltra was one of the first cars to tackle the one-mile oval. Immediately, Sheltra's all camouflage Dodge Charger captured the attention of the announcers and the crowd for more reasons than one -- when the Buffalo Wings & Rings Racing team went to the top of the charts on Sheltra's first lap.
The 23-year old driver remained in the number one position for much of the session's first-half. Sheltra reported to his Crew Chief John Hayden that his car was "very good." The team opted to make a shock change hoping to make the team's machine even better. Despite a couple laps near Sheltra's previous lap times, the car began falling off which reverted the team back to its original shock package.
In the final 10 minutes of the practice session, Sheltra jumped backed inside the top-two of the leader board before Hayden informed his veteran driver to bring his car to the pits and prepare for qualifying. It was then that the track picked up considerable speed after Sheltra parked his Grace Sheltra owned automobile in the garage. Sheltra slipped from second to ninth in the final five minutes of practice.
"We have a great car," said Sheltra. "We tried a few minor adjustments during practice to see if we could get the car a little faster. Eventually, we went back to our original setup and the car was right back to being fast. I'm looking forward to the rest of the day."
Drawing 35th for ARCA qualifying, Sheltra had to patiently wait for his turn to tackle the mile dirt. His patience paid off. During his run, Sheltra maneuvered his Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge around the speed plant in 32.798 seconds at 109.763 miles per hour. At the time, Sheltra's impressive lap put him on the outside pole. Qualifying runs by Parker Kligerman and Frank Kimmel dropped Sheltra from second to fourth in the lineup. The effort accelerated past Sheltra's previous Springfield personal best qualifying run of ninth in 2007.
"It was good but not great," said Sheltra, who eclipsed the facility's previous track record. "I'm disappointed in myself because I left some out there on the table. I got a little looser than I wanted to in turn one and that cost us some time. Overall though, it's been a long time since we've qualifed in the top-five, so hopefully we can stay there."
From the drop of the green flag, Sheltra maintained a position inside the top-five. Despite some serious competition from behind, Sheltra was "riding" which slipped him back to sixth in the rundown. Despite hovering in the sixth position, Sheltra knew that he had a car capable of running up front.
An early caution flag opted for the Sheltra Motorsports team to make their mandatory trip to pit road where the team elected to fuel the No. 60 Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger. The quick effort of the Whitesville, Kentucky-based operation put Sheltra third on the restart.
While battling for the lead on lap 25, the No. 17 spun in turn two and made contact with Sheltra's left front which caved in the fender of the Buffalo Wings & Rings Racing machine. Despite losing a few positions, Sheltra gathered back his momentum and began running back down his competition.
Sheltra found himself back in the top-four at the half-way mark on lap 50.
A plethora of caution flags inside the event's second half kept the field tighten up and Sheltra in-toe with the leaders. While many of the lead lap cars elected to make a second trip to pit road for tires and adjustments, Hayden elected to keep his driver out on the racecourse. The team would later find out -- it would be the right call.
Championship contender Frank Kimmel while running third opted to make a trip to pit road inside twenty laps remaining for tires with Sheltra again pondering the decision to stay out on the racetrack. After a lengthy consultation with members of the Sheltra Motorsports team, it was a unanimous decision that with the number of lead lap cars and the remaining laps it would be nearly impossible to move back into the top-five.
Over the course of the event's final 15 laps, Sheltra was focusing on passing the No. 28 of Ron Cox while keeping the stiff competition of A.J. Fike, Ken Schrader and Justin Lofton at bay. All but Lofton were on new tires ahead and behind of the avid hunter.
Sheltra was making a move on the No. 28 of Cox inside five laps remaining when the yellow flag waived and put Sheltra back in third and forced a green-white-checker for the ARS. On the restart, Sheltra quickly ducked out of line and had made a pass to take second on the white flag lap but blocking from Cox forced Sheltra to get out of the gas and race the No. 10 of Fike hard down the frontstretch barely beating the former full-time ARCA driver to the stripe to grab third.
"It wasn't a bad day for the Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger," said Sheltra after the race. "We had a good enough car to win the race; we just didn't have the fresher tires at the end of the race. You really need like forty laps to come back through the field. No doubt that the fender damage also hurt us a little bit. It's our best finish in two months, so that's encouraging and we'll try and keep the momentum train rolling at Chicagoland on Friday night. I have to thank the guys for their hard work and Buffalo Wings & Rings and all of our marketing partners for keeping their faith in our race team."
Sheltra remains eighth in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship standings after posting his sixth top-10 finish of the year. He closed the point's gap considerably after several of his colleagues had trouble in the Allen Crowe 100. Sheltra now sits just 120 markers from the fourth position in the standings.
Next up for the Sheltra Motorsports team is a trip to the "Windy City" for the Ansell Cut Protection 150 at Chicagoland Speedway. Sheltra will be looking for his first-ever top-10 finish at the 1.5-mile oval.