Sheltra Returns In Winning Car
September 18, 2009 | 9:09 A.M. EST
However, dealing with each other won't be their only issue at Salem. In addition to nine-time Salem winner Frank Kimmel and a plethora of race-ready rookies, there's that other guy in the mix - that would be Indiantown, Florida's Patrick Sheltra who, pretty-much, spanked the competition in the spring race at Salem.
In the end, Sheltra drove away from everyone to earn his career-first ARCA RE/MAX Series victory. And it happened the very next time he sat in a racecar after his potential career-ending crash in the Daytona opener. But, Sheltra has not been back to victory lane since and sits seventh in championship points. Sheltra hopes to change that when he climbs back aboard his Buffalo Wings & Rings Dodge for Saturday's race, under the lights on the legendary southern Indiana short track.
"Salem Speedway was always one of my favorite racetracks, but after we won there, it'll always be forever special to me and our team," said Sheltra. "We won our first race there, but that's in the past. I'm focused on proving that we can win again - and I think we can do it Saturday night."
After Sheltra's Salem win, the Sheltra Motorsports crew tucked away the winning car and hasn't brought it out since - that is until this weekend.
"For most of the year, we've tucked this car way in a corner," added Sheltra. "This car is so special to this team; we didn't want to take any unnecessary risks of ruining it. I know that we have a great setup that should allow us to be just as fast if not faster than we were here in April."
The 23-year old continued, "Salem was our first race with Buffalo Wings & Rings and we were able to celebrate with them in victory lane. Since then, we've been honored with their support. They're all wonderful people and have been a big part of our family all year. The support we'll have from them this weekend will be tremendous and I hope we're able to complete the Salem sweep."
The last time a driver swept both Salem races in a single season was in 2003 when Shelby Howard won back-to-back. Frank Kimmel has the longest modern-day win-streak at Salem with five consecutive victories from September 2000 through September 2002. The late Jack Bowsher has the most consecutive wins at Salem with seven back-to-back victories 1963 through 1965.
Sheltra will make his sixth career Salem start Saturday night. If he comes out with a top-10, he will also tie his record for top-10 finishes in a single season.
"Always improving your record is good but that's not our primary focus. Right now, we want to win Salem. I want to win again for a bunch of reasons. I know John (Hayden, crew chief) and the guys are pumped up about going back - so I'm just ready to get the party started again."
With just three events remaining, 135 points separate Sheltra from fifth in points.
"It's not going to be a easy but we are definitely capable of finishing strong at Salem, Kansas and Rockingham; and if we give nothing less than 150 percent we should be able to walk away from another year of ARCA racing with our best points finish ever," concluded Sheltra.
Crew Chief John Hayden has elected to bring Sheltra Motorsports Chassis No. 5 this weekend at Salem, the same car that won there in the spring. The former Joe Gibbs Racing chassis will be run for ninth time in Sheltra's career.
Entering Salem, Sheltra has 64 ARCA RE/MAX Series starts to his credit with one career victory at Salem (April 2009). During his ARCA tenure, Sheltra has earned 10 top-fives and 22 top-10 finishes. A third place qualifying effort at Rockingham Speedway (April 2009) is Sheltra's best qualifying effort to date.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic (200 laps/111 miles) is the 19th of 21 events on the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule. Practice is Saturday, September 19 from 1:05 p.m. - 2:35 p.m. Menards Pole Qualifying by Ansell is set for 4:00 p.m. The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic 200 is slated to take the green flag shortly after 7:15 p.m. Saturday night. All times are local.