Posted: Mar 14, 2019
Eric Sheely's 2018 Chevrolet Camaro
Eric Sheely's 2018 Chevrolet ZL1 1LE Camaro won the 2018 Franklin Road Apparel GT Class Championship in DriveOPTIMA presented by Advance Auto Parts.
When Bryan Johnson decided to take the year off from competing in OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts, many thought the door would swing wide open for one of several Ford competitors to finally capture a title, but Eric Sheely had other plans. He knew both the ZL1 1LE Camaro and Shelby GT350R very well and opted to go with the Chevy because of what he thought the factory might have offered in terms of an aerodynamic advantage. That didn't mean Sheely was going to totally rely on how the car was equipped as it rolled off the line though and the car ended up being modified significantly.
Sheely came out of the gate quickly, capturing the Franklin Road Apparel GT Class win at the season opener in Las Vegas, which also clinched his invitation to the 2018 OPTIMA Ultimate Street Car Invitational, presented by Advance Auto Parts. From that point forward, Sheely focused on capturing the regular season points championship with two more events on his schedule.
As the 2018 season rolled on, Jonathan Blevins' 2008 Mustang emerged as Sheely's closest competition, with the two needing a tiebreaker to decide finishing order at the Pike's Peak event. Between one or the other, both drivers were at every event, but they wouldn't square off again until the regular season finale at Road America. Coming into the event, Blevins held an edge of just eight points over Sheely and with every position on the track worth a point, Jonathan was looking to make it as difficult as possible for Eric to catch him. Unfortunately for Blevins, his car faltered while Sheely put down his best performance of the season (452 points).
With the point totals coming from the best three events for each competitor, that finish dropped Eric's season-opener from his total and giving him a 15-point margin to wrap up the championship. Blevins is scheduled to return in his Mustang later in 2019, while Sheely has move over (for now) into a C7 Corvette in a different class. Will he re-emerge later this season to defend his championship or move on to pursue a championship in a different class? Check out the series if it comes to a track near you or watch the TV show every weekend on MAVTV (Channel 214 on DIRECTV & 1105 on Uverse). Check out the massive gallery of images of Sheely's car below too!