Salem: Shelby Howard preview

Drive still runs deep in Howard. Despite early season mishaps, he's undeterred about his chances at a win and his shot at the Championship. Salem, IN (April 22, 2003) - CIMCO Racing's Shelby Howard is heading to Salem chomping at the bit. After...

Drive still runs deep in Howard.
Despite early season mishaps, he's undeterred about his chances at a win and his shot at the Championship.

Salem, IN (April 22, 2003) - CIMCO Racing's Shelby Howard is heading to Salem chomping at the bit. After a hard wreck and a 36th place finish in Nashville, the 17-year- old is looking to overcome the misfortune that has found the Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge team in two out of the season's first three events.

Howard has endured some very bad breaks early this season, but what's done is done. It's time for a clean slate and to get down to the business of burning up this year's first short track. There would be no better way to get the monkey off his back than to pick up his first career ARCA win at a track he's so familiar with.

Salem is the ideal track for Howard to charge back to the front. It is a track where he is totally at ease. While he will be making his fourth career ARCA start on the half- mile speedway, the Greenwood, IN native has already chalked up fifth and sixth place finishes in previous starts and was a strong contender for the win last spring after leading a number of laps in that event.

In preparation for the scheduled 200 laps, Howard recently tested the half-mile venue, which means trouble for the competition. After the test, Howard said the car was the best he's ever had at the fabled, short track in southern Indiana.

"We ran very consistent and very fast," stated Howard. "Right off the truck, we easily topped our best time ever, so we packed it in early and headed back home. I don't want to make any bold predictions or anything; I prefer to just drive hard and talk later."

As far as the car itself, the #64 Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge will be the same car they brought last year, but it will be running with a lot more horsepower. The test session proved the Ernie Elliott engine was extremely strong and had a normally quiet Howard singing its praises.

"Ernie always has the best 'stuff'. We came to Salem with our own engine last fall, so this is our first time here with his. The test showed just how stout we will be. I would love to deliver a win for Mack Trucks, Beck Dodge, and Ernie Elliott Engines."

Because of two unfortunate finishes, Howard is currently 17th in the points, but that can be written off as an anomaly; the exception, not the norm. The young Howard expects a climb back near the top real soon.

"It will be a challenge, but 'never say never'. I know this team has it in them. We still hold to our goal of being a serious contender for the championship. We still have a chance; don't count us out," Howard said.

With a strong car and high team morale in place, Shelby Howard and crew are ready for a shot at redemption at Salem. The question is, is Salem ready for them?

Howard and the rest of the ARCA RE/MAX Series will hit Salem Speedway for the running of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 on Sunday April 27 at 2:15 p.m. EDT.

-shr-

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Series ARCA
Drivers Shelby Howard