Patrick Sheltra Wins ARCA Racing Series Championship as Ty Dillon Takes American 200
Patrick Sheltra Wins ARCA Racing Series Championship as Ty Dillon Takes American 200
Sheltra, who finished the season with two wins, 12 top-five finishes, and 17 top-10 finishes, is the 28th driver champion in 58 years of ARCA Racing Series competition. Listed as an owner of the No. 60 Sheltra Motorsports entry, he is the sixth driver/owner to win a championship in series history and the first since Benny Parsons in 1969.
"I've got to thank the Sheltra Motorsports guys, and my mom and my dad (co-owners Richard and Grace Sheltra), and everyone who's been behind me all this year," Sheltra said. "This isn't a one-race deal. It started out in Daytona and ended up here at ‘The Rock.' The guys worked their tails off every day, late hours, just to prepare these cars and get them here to be competitive. I owe everything to them right now."
The champion was quick to note the history of Rockingham Speedway.
"You look at who's won here, and to win the championship here is amazing to me. To be a part of that history now is a big part of my career," he said.
Sheltra (No. 60 Tequesta Road and Bridge of Florida/Jones Group International Toyota) entered the race with just a five-point advantage over Goess, who qualified third. Sheltra started eighth but quickly moved forward when Chad Finley (No. 29 Air Lift Company/Auto Value Certified Service Centers Chevrolet), the second starter, was forced to move to the rear of the field for being late to technical inspection.
Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner Kevin Swindell (No. 6 Eddie Sharp Racing Development Toyota), making just his fifth career start and first ARCA start since 2006, led the first 52 laps. Behind him, Sheltra was making the moves that would help to ensure his first series title.
Sheltra moved to fourth by Lap 10, and as is his custom, was not afraid to drive aggressively for position. He moved over Justin Marks (No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge) for third on Lap 24; meanwhile, Goess (No. 81 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota) had slipped to ninth, and Tom Hessert (No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge), who entered the race 20 points behind in third place, rode sixth.
Just after Lap 30, Sheltra rode just a half-second behind Steve Arpin (No. 55 Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade Toyota), who had advanced to the second position after starting fifth. Sheltra passed Arpin, a three-time winner in 2010, for second on Lap 33. At the 40-lap mark, Sheltra was 4.126 seconds behind Swindell's lead.
Swindell began to encounter heavy lapped car traffic, allowing Sheltra to close the gap by several seconds, but Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 Tastee Caramel Apples Chevrolet) lost engine power and spun in the first turn to bring out the race's second caution flag. Hackenbracht had already spun on Lap 11, yielding the first yellow flag.
The race leaders pitted to close Lap 52, and Sheltra experienced some drama when he was nearly blocked while exiting. Arpin pulled out as the leader, but his advantage was short-lived. The green flag flew on Lap 61, and Sheltra immediately bolted from second place into the lead, his first of the day. Meanwhile, Hessert had driven up to third place, and Goess had fallen to the bottom of the top 10.
Marks seized the lead one lap later, and held it for 25 laps. Sheltra remained second, mostly falling within one total second of Marks lap after lap. A quick four-lap caution period did little to shake up the field, but it brought Sheltra closer to Marks for the Lap 80 restart.
Sheltra drove inside of Marks in the third turn on Lap 87, and with Goess eighth and Hessert 11th, the crucial moments for the championship began to occur. Hessert continued to lose position, and Goess could do little to gain ground. Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford), Swindell, Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace/Access One Ford), and Dillon (No. 41 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) battled for position, allowing Sheltra to extend his lead over the field. Sheltra led by approximately one-and-a-half second at Lap 100, the halfway point, and moved his lead to two seconds over Kimmel at Lap 109. Sheltra finished with 74 total laps led, the most of any driver in the field, to earn the $500 Aaron's Lap Leader Award and the $500 Messina Halfway Leader Award.
His advantage increased to four seconds at Lap 121 when he passed the 20th-place car of Mikey Kile to put him a lap down. Sheltra lapped Hessert on Lap 130, and then moved his lead over Kimmel to five seconds on Lap 137. McCumbee briefly took second place from Kimmel four laps later, and Kimmel regained the spot on Lap 144.
McCumbee again moved back to second one lap later, but was still 5.039 seconds behind. Steve Park (No. 53 Coastal Wire Ford) began to smoke, however, and Tim George Jr. (No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) spun and sustained heavy damage in Turn 2 on Lap 147. Sheltra escaped a potential dearth to his championship hopes, barely missing the wayward car of George.
Sheltra was the first driver off of pit road during the ensuing caution period, but Dillon moved to second place with a fantastic pit stop. The race went green again on Lap 160, and Dillon moved under Sheltra on the backstretch for his first and only lead of the day. Dillon was hardly challenged over the final 41 laps, leading every circuit on the way to his second win.
Sheltra had to endure some close racing in the final quarter of the race after nearly making contact with Swindell and being challenged by Kimmel. Sheltra dropped back to fifth, and held a comfortable potential points lead even as Goess moved back into seventh place. The lead matched his demeanor, which was as relaxed as ever.
"The guys never really told me who was behind me there until about two laps to go, and when they said (Goess was gaining) we started picking it back up a bit and pulling away from him," Sheltra said. "I told them at the beginning that I didn't really want to know how close or far they were. They did a good job of not putting pressure on me."
Arpin was running second near the end, but ran out of gas with just several turns remaining to fall to 12th place. Dillon coasted to an 8.902-second win over Swindell, and Finley finished third.
Dillon was ecstatic to win at a historic speedway where his grandfather, Richard Childress, had fielded winning cars on three occasions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with driver Dale Earnhardt.
"These guys worked so hard all week. We've been here for a while - three days - and it's tough on a team to get up every morning and work as hard the way they did. We knew we had a fast rod, and the guys had an awesome pit stop to put me out second. I hadn't been using all the tires that I could have been, so I had a little left in the tank. After that restart, I got a good run into Turn 1 and was able to get in the gas a little early," Dillon said.
Dillon said that technology played a role in his victory.
"I always watched the races here, and I tried to learn as much as I could," the 18-year-old said. "I use a (simulator) game, and my mom gets mad because sometimes I just come home right from school and jump on that game and race all the tracks that I can. I feel like I've been to these tracks 100 times."
With Arpin's fall, Sheltra moved into the fourth position, and celebration at the start/finish line was the only item remaining on the new champion's agenda.
Sheltra stepped out of his car and accepted the ARCA Racing Series championship trophy, and then sprayed water toward a group of celebrating fans who had approached the retaining fence under the flag stand.
Goess ended the race in fifth place, but was out of luck with Sheltra leading the most laps to earn 10 bonus points and earning five more points with a one-position advantage on the track.
"I'm not in the best spirits, and I didn't see today working out the way it worked out," Goess said. "We did the best we could with what we had. We fought hard all day, and it wasn't meant to work out for us, I guess."
Hessert finished 19th but remained in third in the series standings, 105 points off of the pace.
"We didn't have our best day today. All in all, it was a terrific season and we knew going into today that we could look back on this year and it would be a good one. It's disappointing, though," he said.
Kimmel finished sixth in the race and fourth in the series point standings, and Chris Buescher (No. 17 David Ragan Fan Club Ford) ended seventh. McCumbee finished eighth, and Grant Enfinger and Kile closed out the top 10.
Four cautions slowed the race for 31 laps. The race ended in one hour, 51 minutes, and 17 seconds (107.829 mph).
The final championship margin of 20 tied Parsons' 1968 advantage over Les Snow for the sixth-closest title spread in ARCA history.
The race was the 222nd and final race for RE/MAX International as a titling or presenting partner of the ARCA Racing Series. RE/MAX was the title sponsor of ARCA's national stock car tour from 2001-2009 and acted as a presenting sponsor in 2010. Mike Reagan, senior vice president of brand marketing for RE/MAX, attended the pre-race driver meeting to meet with ARCA teams and officials.
The 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards Championship Awards Banquet will take place Saturday, December 4 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington, Ky., near Cincinnati.