Rockingham: Patrick Sheltra race report

Sheltra Motorsports Frustrated With Rockingham Finish "Early Incident; Engine Failure Pose First DNF Of 2008 Season" ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (May 5, 2008) - - Despite being collected in an early race incident in Sunday's Carolina 500K,...

Sheltra Motorsports Frustrated With Rockingham Finish
"Early Incident; Engine Failure Pose First DNF Of 2008 Season"

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina (May 5, 2008) - - Despite being collected in an early race incident in Sunday's Carolina 500K, Sheltra Motorsports and their driver Patrick Sheltra looked well on their way to collecting their third consecutive top-10 finish of the season before an engine failure erupted their chances; forcing a disappointing finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series's return to Rockingham Speedway.

A heavy three-hour practice session at Rockingham Speedway saw a conservative Sheltra bolt the 21st fastest lap (26.000 seconds, 138.462 mph) at the 1.0-mile oval. "We still have a lot more," said Sheltra following the practice session. "We think we have a good car for qualifying tomorrow and we hope going out early will play into our advantage."

Indeed, Sheltra did draw an early number by rolling out for position number two. Sheltra's first lap was strong but the Indiantown, Florida native bust out an even faster lap on lap two posting a time of 25.102 seconds at 143.415 mph.

The effort would line the No. 60 Ferguson Pipe Enterprises-FloraGanics Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS 12th on the Carolina 500K starting grid. "We would have had a better first lap but I got a little lose," Sheltra explained. "I gathered it up and we posted a very solid lap. It's a good starting position and we hope to keep our car near the front on Sunday."

A final happy hour practice session was etched into the Carolina 500 schedule, but the Sheltra Motorsports team opted to sit out the final opportunity to practice saving their car for race day.

"We all sat down and decided to forgo final practice," Sheltra added. "There was no need to go out there and take the chance of something happening that would put our team behind. We are confident in the car's abilities and we feel that we have a good setup for the race."

50 cars took the green flag Sunday afternoon shortly after 12:15pm local with Sheltra quickly maneuvering his car three-wide into turn one. The move would pay off as Sheltra would move into the 10th position. Sheltra would hold that mark until the first caution of the day occurred on lap 11 when a lap-car spun causing a huge melee with several lead lap cars being collected including Sheltra.

The damage on the No. 60 was ugly but appeared to be more cosmetic. Crew Chief John Hayden called for his driver to bring his machine to pit road where the team would fiercely go to work trying to repair the automobile. The team's effort paid off by keeping Sheltra on the lead lap.

Six times down pit road would put Sheltra at the back of the pack on the restart. Sheltra would continue to move through the field even with a quick lead-pack moving in.

Sheltra would fall off the lead lap approaching lap 75, but Sheltra wouldn't have to wait more than thirty laps to receive the "Lucky Dog" putting him back on the lead circuit.

Back on the lead lap, Sheltra would settle in and begin another run towards the lead pack. Another caution allowed the leader's to duck to pit road with Sheltra staying out and moving into the top-five. Back to racing, Sheltra would have to give-way to the cars on fresher tires but the sophomore driver would settle comfortably in the top-12.

Sheltra would hold that track position until the motor expired on lap 200 forcing the dejected driver to take his car to the garage and end his day early.

"It's a shame that we had the motor issue," Sheltra said after the race. "Despite the early incident, a top-10 finish wasn't out of the picture. I'm again proud of all the efforts of the Sheltra Motorsports team at Rockingham Speedway. The team's hard work kept us on the lead lap circuit. The finish just wasn't meant to be."

The 34th place finish dropped Sheltra from third to seventh in ARCA RE/MAX Series championship point's just five races into the 2008 calendar.

-credit: PatrickSheltra.com.

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers John Hayden , Patrick Sheltra