MORRISON, Colo. - Over three years ago, NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver Shelly Howard won her first NHRA National Event at the 1998 Mopar Parts Mile High Nationals held at Bandimere Speedway, just outside of Denver. This year, Howard is having the best season of her career, with three wins and two runner-up's, and would love to add another win to that total at the place where she won her first event during this year's Mopar Parts Mile High Nationals.
Howard, a registered nurse from Tulsa, Okla., won her second career national event earlier in the year at the Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, Kan. In addition, she has two wins and two runner-ups on the divisional level, placing her on top of the Division 4 points standings, and fifth nationally. All year, Howard has used backbreaking consistency to go rounds, and plans to rely on tuner Tom Conway's expertise to run in the high altitude setting of Bandimere Speedway.
"I'm just going to drive the car the same way I do at sea level," said Howard. "Any tune-up changes that are going to be made for the altitude is going to be left up to the team and Tom Conway. I just try to do my same routine every time. I try not to worry about what they are doing, and just worry about my job, and try to do it the best that I can."
At the season's midpoint, the team hopes not only maintain their fifth place standing nationally, but possibly improve on it. Howard feels the way her team can do that is to maintain the consistency they have had in the first half of the year.
"The only goal we have for the second half of the year is to try to maintain the level of consistency we have had this year," commented Howard. "I think that is the key to doing well. I need to be consistent as a driver, and if the car can perform consistently, then it is easier to handle different variables as they come. If you start trying to overpower the track, or change your routine up too much, then you have a lot to deal with if there is a variable thrown in. That's why we're just focused on maintaining consistency. That's the name of the game for us."
Even though Howard has had success on "The Mountain," when it comes time to race, Howard will treat it like any other track.
"They're [the tracks] just all the same," stated Howard. "I like the Denver track, it's completely different environment than any other race track that we go to. I enjoy it there, and we are comfortable there. It's a nice setting. But, as far as feeling more secure there, or feeling like we have an edge on anybody because we have done fairly well there, you can't take anything for granted, and you're crazy if you do."
Qualifying for the Federal Mogul Dragsters begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Stay tuned to the team's award winning website, ShellyHoward.com, for the daily updates of the team's progress from Denver.