Indianapolis, IN (1-5-03) -- Shelby Howard will have additional expertise in his pits in 2003. The 17-year-old driver starts his second full year in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with NASCAR Winston Cup veteran Derrike Cope serving as a team consultant. Cope, the winner of the 1990 Daytona 500, will be on hand for all of the races that accompany the Winston Cup Series as well as a variety of test sessions.
Howard and Cope first crossed paths at Daytona last month and later had a chance to sit down and talk about the possibility of working together. The new arrangement has already proven to be productive by the results of a test session at Talladega last week.
Howard is excited about having the chance to work with Cope and eager to learn all he can. "This is a great opportunity for me. Being able to bounce questions off of a Daytona 500 winner is just amazing. He has already been a big help and taught me quite a bit. I wish our season started tomorrow," said Howard.
Team owner Shelby Howard III says that bringing Cope on board is being viewed by the whole team as a necessary step. "We had a rookie team and a rookie driver last season, so we had to learn things the hard way. Our guys know that having a seasoned driver like Derrike can only speed up our progression toward becoming a championship team."
Cope is equally energized about teaming up with Howard for the upcoming ARCA campaign. "I've been able to spend some time with Shelby at the track as well as away from it and we have established a good rapport. I've been impressed with the way he approaches things and how well he absorbs information," stated Cope.
In addition to the typical ARCA test sessions, Howard will also climb behind the wheel of Cope's Winston Cup car to gain additional experience. "I'm planning on taking Shelby with us when we test at Kentucky, Lakeland (FL), and Virginia (International Raceway). Anytime he can jump in the seat and log more time will only be beneficial to him down the road," commented Cope.
The 2003 ARCA RE/MAX season kicks off at Daytona next month with the Advance Discount Auto Parts 200 on February 8. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel at 4 p.m. Eastern time.
Don't forget to tune in to SPEED Channel tomorrow (Monday) night at 9 p.m. Eastern time to catch the highlights of the 2002 ARCA RE/MAX Series Banquet. It will re-air again at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning (Jan. 7) and 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 8).