Kentucky: Patrick Sheltra race report

Patrick Sheltra Makes A Statement In Kentucky "Sheltra Motorsports Serious Contenders Under The Lights" SPARTA, Kentucky (May 12, 2008) -- Most would be happy with a top-10 finish but for Whitesville, Kentucky based Sheltra Motorsports, the ...

Patrick Sheltra Makes A Statement In Kentucky
"Sheltra Motorsports Serious Contenders Under The Lights"

SPARTA, Kentucky (May 12, 2008) -- Most would be happy with a top-10 finish but for Whitesville, Kentucky based Sheltra Motorsports, the team would show some frustration after driver Patrick Sheltra captured a season-best seventh place finish in Saturday night's Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 at Kentucky Speedway.

Hoping to improve on the team's eighth place finish at Kansas Speedway last month while sporting their new Dodge Charger emblem the team headed into the first of two events at Kansas's sister track Kentucky Speedway looking to shine in the spotlight.

They did.

In the first and lone practice session of the day, Sheltra maneuvered his camouflage No. 60 Ferguson Pipe-FloraGanics Dodge Charger to the 15th position after clocking a lap of 30.934 seconds at 174.565 mph. "We still have a lot in her," said Sheltra. "We went out to make a qualifying lap to show our muscle and we got trapped by a slower car. The Sheltra Motorsports team did a great job preparing this Dodge. We're picking off right where we left off in Kansas."

Sheltra was right; the team was showing the same shadow of Kansas Speedway.

After drawing the 19th position for ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying, the team was anxious to see what Sheltra could bolt out in qualifying. Hustling around the track in 30.870 seconds or 174.927 mph, Sheltra landed his Grace Sheltra-owned automobile in the 10th position. "It was a good qualifying effort," Sheltra recalled. "The car handled well but I think everyone will see how good our racecar is during the race."

At the start of the Drive Smart! Buckle-Up Kentucky, the Indiantown, Florida native wasted no time charging to the front as by lap two, Sheltra had climbed to sixth and rose to fifth when the first caution flag waived on lap five when the No. 25 of Ryan Fischer went for an innocent spin in turn three.

Crew Chief John Hayden informed his driver that he had the third fastest car on the track and keep digging. On the restart, Sheltra secured himself safely in the top-five before moving into fourth by the end of lap 10.

The caution flag waived again on lap 12 when the No. 45 of Michael Phelps lost an engine. Sheltra remained quiet on the radio, showing determination in the 21-year old's blood.

Challenging inside the top-three, Sheltra continued to sport one of the fastest machines on the track until the opportunity to hit pit road on lap 38 where Hayden called for four tires and fuel. The in-house Sheltra Motorsports pit crew did a fantastic job getting their driver back out on the track.

With a bunch of cars electing to stay out, Sheltra found himself in the middle of the top-20. Coaching and guidance from spotter Kevin Huffines paid off with Sheltra quickly finding himself back in the top-10 just past halfway.

During a heavy span of green flag racing, Sheltra proved that his No. 60 was a threat. Blasting out faster lap times than the leaders, Sheltra continued to move up the leader board and had positioned himself back in the fourth position by lap 85.

With the caution flag waiving inside 20 laps remaining, Sheltra was reminded by Hayden to save fuel in high gear and conserve fuel around the 1.5-mile speedway.

Lap 94 saw the yellow fever continue once again setting for a duel inside five laps remaining. On the restart, Sheltra was setting up his prey for the final few laps before the field slowed again due to a multi-car incident in turn two.

The race then took an interesting turn. With Hayden reminded his driver to try and save fuel, the field would be shut down to red flag conditions for 11 minutes.

Back to yellow conditions, Sheltra fired up his No. 60 Dodge Charger but radioed to his team on the frontstretch that he believed he was running on fumes. The car shutoff before Sheltra fired the ignition up again.

The team had hoped it was just an "air pocket" that caused the brief cease of the motor with Sheltra holding the fourth position on the restart.

On the first attempted green-white-checkered finish, it appeared all was well until turn one with the car stalled again allowing pole sitter Sean Caisse to make the pass for fourth. The car refired allowing Sheltra to battle back into the top-five before the caution flag waived again, setting up for over time round number two.

During the caution, Sheltra's machine stumbled again on the backstretch, despite not coming to a full stop, the No. 60 tried to conserve more fuel on the bottom of the track at a slightly slower speed then the rest of the competition. Getting ready to go back to racing, Sheltra tried to slide back into the fourth position before ARCA ordered the team to fall back inside the top-15 behind the No. 44 of Frank Kimmel.

Extremely frustrated with the call, the team obeyed ARCA's command with Sheltra ready to do what he could to get back to the front. Still on fumes, Sheltra began his slicing and dicing on the restart only to yield to the caution flag again.

Upset with the sheer number of cautions late in the race, Sheltra asked to make the trip down pit road for fuel and new Hoosier tires. The team agreed and felt they had nothing to lose.

The decision paid off.

With plenty of gas and new rubber, Sheltra was a man on a mission on the final restart of the day, holding his No. 60 nearly wide open on the final lap brilliantly passing cars on the outside through turns one and two onto the backstretch. Marching into the top-10 coming into turn three, Sheltra vowed for more and found himself in a three-wide match with the No. 39 of Brett Hudson and the No. 11 of Bryan Silas with Sheltra fitting in the middle crossing the line seventh, garnishing his third top-10 finish of the season.

"It was amazing how quick that race turned around," said Sheltra after the race. "I'm still confused and upset on the call by the ARCA officials as we were not the only car doing everything possible to try and save fuel. Other teams were not penalized like we were. I just feel it was an unjust call. On the other hand to walk away with a top-10 finish and our racecar intact, I'll take it."

Sheltra continued, "We had a car that could have won the race tonight, we were that good. We are going to come back in July with a vengeance. Our car was good all night long and the Sheltra Motorsports team did a good job on pit road. It was an okay point's night; we gained some points on the lead pack. We'll take this top-10 finish and go for the win at Toledo next Sunday."

With sixth races complete, Sheltra controls the eighth position in the ARCA RE/MAX Series point standings, just 80 markers from the top-five and 170 credits from the top spot now held by SunTrust Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

-credit: PatrickSheltra.com.

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers John Hayden , Bryan Silas , Patrick Sheltra , Michael Phelps , Ryan Fischer , Brett Hudson