Obstacles No Match For Patrick Sheltra At Pocono "Ninth Top-10 Of 2010 Keeps Sheltra In Championship Chase" LONG POND, Pennsylvania (July 31, 2010) - - There were a lot of story lines surrounding the conclusion of Saturday's Weis Markets 125 ...
Obstacles No Match For Patrick Sheltra At Pocono
"Ninth Top-10 Of 2010 Keeps Sheltra In Championship Chase"
LONG POND, Pennsylvania (July 31, 2010) - - There were a lot of story lines surrounding the conclusion of Saturday's Weis Markets 125 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. One of the "feel good" comeback stories had to be the rebound from ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards driver Patrick Sheltra.
Sheltra, the 24-year old ARCA pro visited the 2.5-mile triangle of Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for the ninth time in his professional racing career and had hopes of backing up his impressive fourth place outing from the Long Pond track nearly seven weeks ago.
When practice took stage for the cars and stars of the ARCA Racing Series, Sheltra wasted no time showing his competitors what his team was packing. Almost, immediately, Sheltra went to second on the overall rundown before eventually sliding down to land in seventh after his competition made their simulated qualifying runs.
Review of the team's No. 60 Recycling Services / Ferguson Pipe Toyota Camry found fluid in the trunk of the team's automobile. Fazed by the findings, the operation was preparing for a game plan should they decide to change the engine after Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying.
In time trials, Sheltra maneuvered the 10th fastest lap around the track nicknamed "The Tricky Triangle", awarding the dirt track ace his fourth consecutive and fifth overall top-10 starting spot at the facility. Despite the solid effort, the team was not satisfied with the overall performance of their Japanese nameplate and felt it would be in their best interest to swap out the motors in order to be a contender for the 51st ARCA event held at Pocono. Their intuitions turned out to be dead on, as there was indeed a mechanical issue with the motor, which easily would have taken the team out of the picture in the 125-mile race.The unapproved change however would force the No. 60 to relinquish their original starting berth and drop to the rear for the start of the 50-lap contest.
Knowing he had a battle on his hands for a very short dash, Sheltra remained focused but confident that his team would be able to overcome the odds and find themselves contending for another good Pocono finish.
From the drop of the green flag, Sheltra nearly avoided disaster as the No. 55 of Donny Lia experienced mechanical woes on the frontstretch which jumbled up the field and ultimately caused the first yellow flag to fly by the time the cars returned to the complete lap one. Sheltra, obliviously a man on a mission had climbed from 39th to 23rd in one circuit.
When racing resumed, Sheltra steadily continued his climb through the 39-car starting field and had climbed into the top-10 just 15 laps into the event. Informing crew chief Jon Wolfe of a loose condition upon exit of the corner, Sheltra maintained his spot inside the top-10 before having to bring his green and orange Camry to pit road under green flag conditions for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to battle the looseness that Sheltra had been feeling. Unfortunately, as the Indiantown, Florida native was trying to exit pit road, his machine stalled before re-firing with Sheltra immediately keying the radio and advising his team that he had lose first and second gear in the transmission.
Frustrated by the turn of events, the team kept their driver focused and told him to keep digging on the racetrack and their battle wasn't over until the checkered flag flew. However, three laps after Sheltra's green flag pit stop, the caution lights would beam trapping not only Sheltra but a whole host of race cars one lap down.
While the leaders came to pit road, Sheltra elected per Wolfe to stay out on the racetrack which lined him up on the tail end of the lead lap but directly in front of leaders Craig Goess, Robb Brent and Mikey Kile.
Despite a gallant effort by Goess to re-trap the Sheltra Motorsports team one lap down, Sheltra would accelerate his Toyota Camry off turns one and two and pull himself away from the leaders only to be halted by the waive of a caution flag, which was a welcomed sign for the Mooresville, North Carolina based operation.
The team's reward though would not come without risks as Sheltra would now be marred deep in the reins of a hungry lead-pack bunch that consisted of 23 vehicles. Even though, Sheltra had to restart the race in third gear, the driver nicknamed "Mr. Showtime" began pedaling his way towards the front and within five circuits found himself back in the top-10.
With less than 10 laps remaining, Sheltra hunkered down and studied his prey like a hawk and quickly ate up eighth place competitor and fellow Floridian Bryan Silas before passing Venturini Motorsports prot0x00e9g0x00e9 Mikey Kile for seventh. On the final-lap, Sheltra swallowed the No. 44 of nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel to claim his ninth top-10 finish of the year by claiming sixth.
"We never gave up," said Sheltra after the race. "No doubt about it, we had our challenges but we overcame them and were able to bounce back with a solid finish. They say bad luck comes in three. We had enough bad luck this weekend to last us the rest of the year. I am glad we changed the motor, it was the right thing to do. Nonetheless, we were able to stay focused, keep our plan in-check and more importantly keep our championship dreams alive."
He concluded, "I cannot say thanks enough to my guys at Sheltra Motorsports. They are awesome. They gave me a great racecar and if the race was just a tad bit longer, there is little doubt that we could have found ourselves in the top-five. I also cannot forget my fans, our marketing partners and everyone who supports this team. We'll take this positive run and go get 'em at Berlin next Saturday night."
With his results on Saturday, Sheltra unofficially controls fifth in the ARCA Racing Series championship chase just 10 markers behind fourth place contender Tom Hessert and 130 behind current points leader Justin Marks.
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards is their annual trip to Berlin (Mi.) Raceway for the running of the Berlin ARCA 200 on Saturday night, August 7th.
-source: sheltra motorsports