Pocono: Patrick Sheltra race report

Pocono Raceway Unkind To Patrick Sheltra & Co. "Sheltra Motorsports Suffers Second Engine Failure Of '08" LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 7, 2008) - - With momentum on his side Patrick Sheltra's bid to collect his first career ARCA RE/MAX ...

Pocono Raceway Unkind To Patrick Sheltra & Co.
"Sheltra Motorsports Suffers Second Engine Failure Of '08"

LONG POND, Pennsylvania (June 7, 2008) - - With momentum on his side Patrick Sheltra's bid to collect his first career ARCA RE/MAX Series victory ended just 34 laps into Saturday's Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway.

The first of two events at the 2.5-mile speedway this season offered its challenges to the Whitesville, Kentucky-based Sheltra Motorsports team this weekend.

In the first and only practice session of the day, Sheltra mounted the 14th fastest time after posting a lap of 55.204 seconds at 163.032 mph. During the course of the session, Sheltra informed his team of an issue. As Sheltra made his way around the race course his RPMs would stutter and fluctuate. The team spent the afternoon after practice trying to diagnose the issue. With several changes made to the No. 60 Dodge Charger before ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying, the team was hoping the problem was corrected.

In qualifying, Sheltra drew 11th (qualifying position) earlier in the day but would enter the track for his time trails session much earlier than anticipated. During his one qualifying lap, Sheltra quickly ran on the back of the No. 46 of Matt Carter, who should have not been on the track. Sheltra immediately informed his team of the situation and backed-off to keep from making contact to the slowing Carter. ARCA officials admitted they made a mistake by having two cars on the track at the same time.

Sheltra's first lap wrote him into the 56.200 second category but ARCA officials informed the sophomore ARCA team they would be given another chance to make a qualifying attempt if they wish. With the option to stand on their original time or re-qualify, the team chose to take another chance at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania facility. The decision paid off.

Laying down a lap of 55.745 seconds at 161.449 mph, Sheltra netted the 15th fastest lap. The 22-year old native though informed his team however that the issue he battled in practice was worse in qualifying. Quickly, the team went back to work with another list of inspections and changes.

With their checklist complete, the Sheltra Motorsports team was confident that the changes and repairs they made would correct the issue they were facing.

Saturday brought a day of sizzling temperatures and sunny skies. Despite the hot day, Sheltra was keeping himself well hydrated and ready to tackle Pocono Raceway for the fourth time in his ARCA career.

Having to drop back at the start of the Pocono ARCA 200 after making unapproved adjustments to their Grace Sheltra owned automobile, Sheltra knew he had a long way to go to get to the front but was confident he could make a charge.

Taking the green flag shortly after 1:00 p.m., Sheltra bolted from his 38th starting position and had climbed to 16th when the first caution flag of the day waived by lap two.

On the restart, Sheltra again began picking up positions on the race track and had climbed into the top-14 by lap 10.

Over the next 15 laps, Sheltra would find himself in a tight battle with the No. 5 of Bobby Gerhart and the No. 22 of Ken Butler III who each traded places amongst each other until another caution flag waived on lap 24 when Ted Olswfski lost an engine.

Reporting to crew chief John Hayden that he as facing a loose condition. When asked how bad the loose condition was, Sheltra radioed, "five. On a scale of one to 10." Hayden informed his driver to make the trip down pit road under caution for four tires, fuel and two rounds to tighten up his No. 60 Ferguson Pipe-FloraGanics Dodge Charger.

Entering pit road 14th, Sheltra left pit road an impressive sixth after the Sheltra Motorsports pit team did an awesome job on pit road picking up their driver several positions. Sheltra radioed to his pit crew, "Awesome job boys!"

Fellow Floridian Bryan Silas stayed out on the race track but ducked onto pit road before the return to green flag racing conditions inching Sheltra up to fifth.

Back to green flag racing, Sheltra was on a mission. Staying tucked up with the lead pack; Sheltra came down the front stretch on lap 33 attempting to make a pass on the No. 00 of Robb Brent when the motor erupted underneath the No. 60 Dodge Charger.

Quickly out of the racing groove, Sheltra informed his team, their day was done. Coasting back down pit road on lap 34, the team inspected under the hood and determined that the failure was terminal.

Sheltra was credited with a 33rd place finish and his second DNF (Did Not Finish) of the season.

"I'm frustrated," Sheltra said. "We had a good car, a strong car. We fixed the problem from practice and qualifying but we had a much bigger problem in the race. I'm not sure what really happened with the motor. We'll get it back to the shop, inspect it and then make a final determination."

The Indiantown, Florida native added, "We could have won the race, our car was that good. Unfortunately, the two bad finishes we've had because of engine failure have hurt us in the point standings. We can't afford to have too many more finishes like this weekend otherwise we'll be out of the picture."

The finish cost Sheltra a spot in the ARCA RE/MAX Series point standings dropping from eighth to ninth. Sheltra now sits 45 points from eighth place runner Tayler Malsam and 315 markers from the top-spot held by Saturday's winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is a trip to the "Motor City". Action from Michigan International Speedway (MIS) begins Thursday, June 12 with practice and ARCA SIM Factory pole qualifying on the agenda setting the field for Friday's Racing for Wildlife 200. The ninth race on the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule falls on June 13th with coverage live on SPEED beginning at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Last year at MIS, Sheltra finished 14th after qualifying 24th.

Exiting Pocono, Sheltra has 33 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts to his credit with a career best finish of second at Toledo Speedway (May 2008) with two additional top-five finishes (third) at Illinois State Fairgrounds (August 2007), (fourth) at Berlin Raceway (July 2007) while holding additional top-10s at Kentucky Speedway (May 2008), Kansas Speedway (April 2008), Iowa Speedway (April 2008), Kentucky Speedway (June 2007), DuQuoin State Fairgrounds (September 2007) and Toledo Speedway (October 2007). An eighth place qualifying effort at Kansas Speedway (April 2008) is Sheltra's best time trials efforts to date. He has controlled the ARCA field once for four laps.

-credit: PatrickSheltra.com.

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Bobby Gerhart , John Hayden , Ken Butler III , Bryan Silas , Robb Brent , Patrick Sheltra , Tayler Malsam