Joliet, IL (September 4, 2003) -- Nearing the end of his second full season in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, 18-year-old Shelby Howard will be competing at Chicagoland Speedway for the first time this weekend. Last September, when the circuit headed...
Joliet, IL (September 4, 2003) -- Nearing the end of his second full season in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, 18-year-old Shelby Howard will be competing at Chicagoland Speedway for the first time this weekend.
Last September, when the circuit headed to Chicago, Howard headed home. It was the only race he missed all year. Barely 17 years old at the time, the teenager had no choice but to sit out the ARCA event because the Indy Racing League, who had sponsorship from Marlboro, also was racing at the speedway that weekend.
As part of the deal between tobacco companies and state attorney generals, a person must have reached the age of 18 in order to participate in a sporting event that is sponsored by a tobacco company. Because tobacco had a presence at the facility that weekend, Howard wasn't allowed to participate.
While terribly disappointed, Howard and team just rolled with the punches. Electing to take the high road, Howard knows that those in charge were just carrying out the court's orders.
"The decision had been made and there was nothing we could do about it, so what was the point in making a big stink about it," Howard recently said. "Our situation wasn't as cut and dried (no pun intended) because it (tobacco) didn't directly involve us (ARCA), but that's ok. Because of the law, they had to draw the line somewhere. Unfortunately, we were stuck on the other side of that line."
With no such restrictions holding him back this year, Howard heads to Chicagoland full bore. Having only tested there last month, Howard now faces a sizeable learning curve. Despite that fact, the youngest race winner in ARCA believes he will adapt quickly and have plenty of speed to rely on.
"Ernie (Elliott Engines) gives us loads of power and we had a decent test run there, so we should be fine," said Howard. "Our goal is a top ten qualifying run, find where our Dodge will run its best, and stay out of trouble. If we can do that, we should wind up with a good finish."
With a win and four top five finishes in six races this year on a 1.5-mile track, Howard looks to carry that same success with him to the identically-shaped Chicagoland track.
The ReadyHosting.com 200 takes the green flag at 1 pm ET on Saturday, September 6.