Howard Kicks Off Rookie Season with Experience in his Corner Daytona Beach, FL (2-5-02) - Even though Shelby Howard has never raced at Daytona International Speedway, he won't be totally "green" to the track heading into the season opener this...
Howard Kicks Off Rookie Season with Experience in his Corner
Daytona Beach, FL (2-5-02) - Even though Shelby Howard has never raced at Daytona International Speedway, he won't be totally "green" to the track heading into the season opener this weekend. When the engine fires up, he will have not one, but two experienced drivers feeding him advice.
Three-time ARCA RE/MAX champion Bob Dotter will serve as a team consultant for Daytona. Dotter holds the record for the most starts (18) in the Daytona ARCA RE/MAX race. Dotter may continue his role with the CIMCO Racing team beyond the season opener, but at the moment, nothing is definite.
In addition to benefiting from Dotter's knowledge, Howard will also receive valuable insight from crew chief Eddie Kelley. Kelley has 3 career starts at the track in a Dash Series car and will be competing in the Dash event the day before the ARCA race. Although there is quite a bit of difference between the two types of cars, Kelley understands the basics.
Howard also tested there in December, so he won't be seeing the track and experiencing the infamous draft for the first time.
"We drafted a little during our test session, so I got a feel for what it's going to be like. We just hope for a good starting position and we'll have to figure out the best way to get around here to keep the Lucas Oil-Mack Trucks Pontiac Grand Prix hooked up with a fast pack of cars," stated Howard.
Lucas Oil Products, the team's primary sponsor for the Discount Auto Parts 200 at Daytona, has established itself as a top selling additive line in the American truck stop industry. The team will have Associate Sponsorship from Mack Trucks and Shepherd Insurance. The team is currently seeking marketing partners for the remainder of the season.
Kelley is confident in Howard and his ability to quickly learn what it takes get around the high banks of Daytona.
"Shelby took to the track pretty quick when we were here in December and he gave us great feedback about what the car was doing out there. We went home and improved on the car, so we should be in good shape," exclaimed Kelley.
While a top 10 finish would be nice, Kelley realizes they have to clear the hurdle of qualifying first.
"We've got a lot to learn about these cars. We're a rookie team, so we don' t have the provisionals to fall back on. There are over 60 teams entered in this race, so anything in the top 15 of the starting grid would be fine with us," Kelley said. "As far as where we hope to finish in the race, as long as we can stay out there and learn, not pushing for anything specific, it will be a successful day in our book. We want a non-eventful day, not making any major mistakes or getting caught up in someone else's. If we can do that, we should come home with a decent finish."
Howard knows this is an important race, but he doesn't seem phased by the fact that it's taking place at the World Center of Racing.
"True, this is Daytona and it's probably the most widely known facility in the racing world, but I have to look at it as just another track. I've got to hit my marks and find out what to do just like I would with any place I' ve never raced before," commented Howard. "Eddie and Bob both know how to get around this track and I know they will be a tremendous help to me."
The green flag drops on the 2002 ARCA RE/MAX season this Sunday in the Discount Auto Parts 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Live broadcast coverage starts at 11 a.m. on Speed Channel.
QUICK FACTS: This will be Shelby's 6th career ARCA RE/MAX start. He made 5 starts in 2001 capturing two top ten finishes. Shelby will be wearing a HANS device this season.
TEAM INFO: The CIMCO Racing team will be using Pontiacs for Daytona and Talladega only. The remainder of the season they will be in a Chevrolet. The Pontiac was acquired from Johnny Benson's Winston Cup team.
DRIVER APPEARANCE: Shelby is slated to appear at Bill Connell's Pros in Motorsports radio show at Sweetwater's in Port Orange. The exact date and time is to be determined. The show is scheduled for this Thursday through Saturday from 9-10 p.m.
WEBSITE OVERHAULED: ShelbyHoward.com has been re-vamped and will be officially re-launched later this week. Stop by throughout the season to stay up to date on all the latest news and information on Shelby and CIMCO Racing.