Toledo: Patrick Sheltra race report

Sixth Straight Top-10 Earns Patrick Sheltra Points Lead At Toledo "Sheltra Holds Top Points Spot For Second Time In His Career" TOLEDO, Ohio (May 23, 2010) - - Patrick Sheltra was able to earn his sixth consecutive top-10 finish of the 2010...

Sixth Straight Top-10 Earns Patrick Sheltra Points Lead At Toledo

"Sheltra Holds Top Points Spot For Second Time In His Career"

TOLEDO, Ohio (May 23, 2010) - - Patrick Sheltra was able to earn his sixth consecutive top-10 finish of the 2010 ARCA Racing Series (ARS) presented by RE/MAX and Menards season in Sunday's Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo (Oh.) Speedway awarding the Indiantown, Florida native with the championship point's lead for just the second time in his ARCA career.

The finish though did not come without its obstacles as during portions of the 200-lap tango on Sunday, Sheltra in the No. 60 Recycling Services-Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge felt like the silver ball in a pinball machine as the ARCA pro would overcome several close calls and even a run-in with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series superstar to capitalize on his strongest ARCA season start of his four-year career.

The Sheltra Motorsports team led by crew chief Jon Wolfe faced adversity from the moment the team unloaded at the Northern Ohio track on Saturday during the lone practice session of the weekend. While proving that their No. 60 Dodge was consistent on long runs, the team struggled with the rotation of the car from the center off which placed the team 18th on the rundown.

After several changes, the team bolted on four new Hoosier tires and added a full tank of Sunoco Racing fuel for Menards pole qualifying presented by Ansell. Sheltra was the 25th driver to tackle the half-mile short track in qualifications and laid down a lap of 16.629 seconds at 108.245 miles per hour, ironically landing the team 18th on the starting grid. Even with three-tenths of a second pickup from practice, the team was still baffled by the handling of their Chrysler nameplate.

Following time trials, the team thoroughly inspected their machine and determined that there was a potential problem with the right front spring in the Grace Sheltra owned automobile. Rather to be safe than sorry, the team opted to make an unapproved change on their race car which ultimately would force Sheltra to relinquish his original starting position and start the sixth race of the season from the rear of the 32-car starting field.

Immediately in classic Sheltra style, he began maneuvering his green and orange machine through the tough Toledo field from the moment the green flag waived. Within in the first five laps of the event, the 24-year old rising star had placed himself back where he was supposed to start and continued to climb the leader board.

Despite several early race cautions, Sheltra reported to his team that he was pleased with his car and felt like it was "pretty good" all the way around Toledo, but was waiting for a long-green flag run to ultimately inform his crew of what he truly had.

The long-green flag would never come to fruitation as the yellow flags continued to waive with Sheltra holding steady inside the top-12. Approaching lap 50, Wolfe decided to bring his driver to pit road for the first of two stops of the day.

During the pit stop, the team changed four tires and added Sunoco Racing fuel while making an air pressure adjustment with hopes of correcting a tight condition that eventually began to surface.

Back to green flag racing, Sheltra was making gains despite casual short track racing beating and banging but as clean as the team's day was going -- their cards were about to flip. After getting loose, Sheltra would be passed by nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran Matt Crafton closely in-toe. Trying to get-back in line behind Kimmel, the front-end of Crafton's Ford touched the rear of Sheltra's Dodge which sent the No. 60 into a spin-cycle in turn two. While Crafton and Sheltra emerged unscathed, Tim George Jr., A.J. Frank, Robb Brent and Craig Goess Jr., weren't as fortunate as those drivers collided during the incident.

Damage control was quickly assessed and Sheltra returned to competition in the 15th position, the final car on the lead lap. During the second half of the event, the aspiring NASCAR driver kept his nose clean while quietly inching his way back through the running order.

Another caution inside the final 75 laps opted the opportunity to bring Sheltra down pit road for the final time for two tires and fuel. The driver returned to the track on the outskirts of the top-10.

Over the course of the final quarters of the event, Sheltra used patience and a little bit of luck to climb into the top-five before eventually falling to ninth after drivers who had fresher rubber after stopping late in the game made their way around the young-gun. However, when Justin Marks, who controlled the ARCA Racing Series point standings entering Toledo pitted with three laps to go with a flat right front tire, Sheltra moved up to the eighth position which is where he took the checkered flag.

The finish was Sheltra's fourth top-10 finish in seven starts at the ARCA-sanctioned facility. Remarkably, it was also a stellar six consecutive top-10 finish for the Mooresville, North Carolina team. The Sheltra Motorsports team remains the only organization to finish inside the top-10 in all the ARS events run in 2010.

"Overall, not a bad day," said Sheltra. "We had to fight for this one, that's for sure. For some reason we struggled with the handling of our Dodge Charger all weekend. During the race we were able to get the car the best it had been all weekend but it was still a struggle. Again, our Sheltra Motorsports team proved that we will not go down without a fight -- even if we don't have the best car. We made the best of what could have been a discouraging day."

Crafton, the pilot of the No. 88 Messina Wildlife Management / Menards Ford Fusion finished fifth but made a stop to the Sheltra Motorsports trailer following the 67th ARCA race at Toledo where the two competitors talked about the incident near the half-way mark.

"It's all good," sounded Sheltra. "I got loose and I tried to sneak in there behind Frank (Kimmel) and Matt (Crafton) was already there. It was just a racing deal. I hate that a couple other guys were tore up in that ordeal but I have nothing against Matt and we were able to talk and laugh about our battles against each other throughout the race. He's a good driver and I respect him. I appreciate him coming over to talk. I look forward to racing with him again at Iowa."

With Justin Mark's late-race setback, Sheltra was able to inherit the ARCA Racing Series championship point's lead by 10 markers heading into the next race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in two weeks. Steve Arpin who was second entering the second short track race of the season would fall out of competition on lap 140 after making contact with the turn four concrete. He slipped to third, sitting 65 points behind Sheltra.

"It's mighty early in the season, but this is what the team has worked hard for," sounded Sheltra. "Six top-10s in a row is pretty impressive in my mind. The team has really done their job on and off the track to put a competitive car underneath me and I cannot thank them enough. I'm looking forward to Pocono and the rest of the year."

Next up for the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards is the first of two trips to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for the running of the Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 on Saturday, June 5. Sheltra will return to the 2.5-mile triangle track looking for a duplicate performance of last year where he finessed his No. 60 Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge Charger to a stout third place run.

-source: sheltra motorsports

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Matt Crafton , Robb Brent , Patrick Sheltra , Steve Arpin , A.J. Frank , Craig Goess