Patrick Sheltra Caps Off Stellar Season With First ARCA Championship ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (October 13, 2010) - - ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards veteran driver Patrick Sheltra's dream became a reality this past Saturday...
Patrick Sheltra Caps Off Stellar Season With First ARCA Championship
ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (October 13, 2010) - - ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards veteran driver Patrick Sheltra's dream became a reality this past Saturday at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. By finishing fourth in the American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Care, Sheltra and his Sheltra Motorsports team captured the 2010 ARCA Racing Series championship.
The championship title was the icing on the cake after the Mooresville, North Carolina-based team capped off a stellar season which was full of consistency and determination. Sheltra also became the first Floridian to capture the ARCA Racing Series championship since the series' inception in 1953.
Focused on the 20th and final race of the season, the Sheltra Motorsports team led by Jon Wolfe headed to the historic one-mile oval seeking the perfect setup that would ultimately aid them in their quest for the most coveted position in the series. With the help of 2009 ARCA Racing Series champion Justin Lofton, the Sheltra Motorsports team concentrated their efforts with two Toyota Camrys on Thursday with the team deciding to utilize the same Toyota Camry that the team had won with at Chicagoland Speedway and raced at Kansas Speedway just a week before.
During the first practice session on Friday, Sheltra found the speed that his veteran ARCA team had been searching on Thursday. After maneuvering a top-five lap, the 24-year old Sheltra set his sights on Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying. Going out late in the session, Sheltra was hoping to land his No. 60 Tequesta Road and Bridge of Florida / Jones Group International Toyota Camry inside the top-three to earn some extra bonus points that would pad his ARCA Racing Series championship lead.
A bobble though coming out of turn two ended Sheltra's chances at his first official career ARCA pole but the green and orange Toyota Camry would start the season finale from the eighth position.
Immediately from the drop of the green flag, Sheltra, in his classic "Mr. Showtime" style, quickly began slicing and dicing through the field. When the first caution flag waived on lap 11, Sheltra had bolted into the fourth position.
By lap 30, Sheltra had moved into the third position behind Steve Arpin. By lap 40, Sheltra had cleared Arpin's No. 55 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and set his sights on leader Kevin Swindell, who had checked out with a healthy lead over the field.
Closing in on lap 50, Chad Hackenbracht lost a motor right in front of Sheltra which allowed the yellow flag to waive and open up pit road for the first stop of the day. Wolfe called for a slight air pressure adjustment, four tires and fuel. A flawless stop by the Sheltra Motorsports crew sent their driver back into action in the second spot behind Arpin, who elected to stay out during the yellow.
On the restart, Sheltra on fresh rubber made quick work of Arpin and led lap 61 collecting five crucial bonus points. Justin Marks made a pass on Sheltra on lap 62 with the No. 60 Tequesta Road and Bridge of Florida / Jones Group International Toyota Camry settling comfortably in the second position.
As the field began to trickle into a long-green flag run following a caution on lap 76, Sheltra's Toyota proved to be the fastest on the track. By lap 87, Sheltra dived his Sheltra Motorsports automobile to the bottom of turn three and cleanly passed Marks for control of the top-spot.
From there, Sheltra checked out on the field and put as much as a six second lead on the field before he escaped a potential death to his championship hopes, barely missing the wayward car of Tim George Jr. on lap 147.
The caution was a welcomed break for the Sheltra Motorsports team as they were just 10 to 12 laps from entering pit road under green flag conditions. The Indiantown, Florida native brought his machine to the attention of his pit crew where they once again performed flawlessly and sent their pilot back onto the track in the same position he entered.
On the lap 160 restart, Sheltra was unable to fend off Ty Dillon. Dillon in the No. 41 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Impala maneuvered around the No. 60 on the backstretch and took command of the race.
Meanwhile, the handling of Sheltra's Toyota began to fade as Sheltra reported to Wolfe that his car had become extremely tight during the last run. With the cars of Ty Dillon, Steve Arpin, Kevin Swindell and Chad Finley all cleanly passing the No. 60, Sheltra found himself in the fifth position with the No. 81 of Craig Goess, Sheltra's competition for the championship lurking in seventh. During the course of the final 10 laps, Sheltra had to hold off a charge from nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel for sixth but Kimmel with five laps to go honorably moved out of the way and allowed Goess to move up into the sixth position and try and make a pass on the championship leader. Sheltra though would have none of it. After Goess was able to find himself on the back bumper of the No. 60 Tequesta Road and Bridge of Florida / Jones Group International Toyota Camry with four laps to go, Sheltra increased his distance from the No. 81 Toyota over the final three laps of the event and was able to take the checkered flag ahead of Eddie Sharp Racing's Goess and ultimately claim the 2010 ARCA Racing Series championship.
Sheltra would move from fifth to fourth on the final lap as Arpin while running second ran out of fuel on the backstretch allowing the lead lap cars behind him to take advantage of his misfortune. The finish was Sheltra's second top-five in four runs at "The Rock."
Sheltra's 12th top-five and 17th top-10 of the season was enough to secure the championship title by a mere 20 points over Goess who finished fifth in the race and second in the final point standings. Tom Hessert who entered the season finale just 20 markers behind Sheltra had a challenging day and finished 19th but claimed third overall in points. Frank Kimmel took fourth and Mikey Kile capped of his first year of competition in the fifth place points position.
"We knew what we had to do and we did it," said Sheltra, who led a race high 74 laps which earned him an additional five bonus points. "The team did a fantastic job and Jon Wolfe is the man. We were optimistic after the test on Thursday, but we found a comfortable setup and went with it for the race and it paid off."
Sheltra continued, "I'm speechless about winning the ARCA Racing Series championship. This is what we came here to do this year. After New Jersey, many wrote us off after dropping to fifth in points. As a team though, we never gave up. We knew what we had to do. I stayed confident and consistent behind the wheel and the guys continued to give 150 percent at the shop and at the race track. It just goes to show you that hard work definitely pays off."
By hoisting the role as the owner of the No. 60 Tequesta Road and Bridge of Florida / Jones Group International Toyota Camry, Sheltra became the first owner / driver champion since 1969 when the late Benny Parsons earned the driver and owner title in the same season. To date, there are only six driver / owner combination champions. Driver / owner champions in the same season include Jim Romine (1953), Buckie Sager (1954), Iggy Katona (1955, '56, '57, '62, '66, '67), Jack Bowsher (1963, '64, '65), Benny Parsons (1968, '69) and Sheltra (2010).
"This is a family affair," sounded Sheltra. "We could not have become the 2010 ARCA Racing Series champions without the guidance and support of my mom (Grace) and dad (Rick). We've been competing in the ARCA Racing Series full-time since 2007 and now we've been able to prove once again that a family-owned team can make it all the way to the top. The Allgaier family did it in 2008, this year was our turn."
Sheltra also focused on becoming the first recipient from the Sunshine State to take the championship crown. "This is for all the drivers out there who live in a small city like mine in Indiantown. You can do it. It doesn't come without hard work and a few bumps and bruises along the way, but the glorification of something like a championship makes everything worth it. I'm so appreciative to all the fans and our local supporters from Indiantown who have stepped up and supported our "little" team through the good and bad. This is something that no one will be able to take away from us."
In all, the 2010 ARCA Racing Series season proved to be best racing year to date for Sheltra. In 20 races, he conquered two wins, 12 top-fives and 17 top-10s. He also controlled the ARCA Racing Series field six times for 241 laps.
Next up for Sheltra and Co. is the 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards Championship Awards Banquet will take place Saturday, December 4 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Ky., near Cincinnati.
-source: sheltra motorsports