JOLIET, Ill. - Anyone who follows the Shelly Howard Racing team can tell you what the team's main goal is, and what has been a key to their success this year: consistency. Once again, the NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver used backbreaking...
JOLIET, Ill. - Anyone who follows the Shelly Howard Racing team can tell you what the team's main goal is, and what has been a key to their success this year: consistency. Once again, the NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver used backbreaking display of consistency to runner-up during this past weekend's NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway just outside of Chicago.
Howard, a registered nurse from Tulsa, Okla., qualified her Tom Conway tuned Blown Alcohol Dragster fourth in the 16 car field with a career-best 5.378 second elapsed time at 261.22 mph. In round one, she defeated Ken Perry with a 5.405 at 257.68 mph, then took out Division 1 heavy hitter Cliff Bozzelli with a 5.438 at 258.91 mph in the quarterfinals. The semifinals would pit her against national title contender Mark Hentges. The race was over at the starting line, however, as Hentges redlighted, giving Howard an automatic win as she streaked to a 5.414 at 260.06 mph.
Howard's final round opponent was U.S. Nationals winner Keith Stark, who reset the class' world record with a 5.302 blast the round before. Not deterred, Howard took a large .441 to .508 starting line advantage over Stark, but had engine problems slow her to a 5.667 at 249.30 mph. Stark backed-up his record time with a 5.351 at 268.92 mph for the win.
"We had a problem all weekend breaking valve springs," said Howard. "I was able to do my job fairly well, and luckily, we were able to work our way into the final. Keith [Stark] was running exceptionally well all weekend. We knew that we were going to meet a tough competitor there, and we broke four valve springs in the final round, and that was pretty much that. But, all in all, it was a good weekend."
Howard and team hope to keep up their solid 5.4 second performance for there next race, the Division 4 finale at her home track, Thunder Valley Motorsports Park in Noble, Okla., Oct. 12-14. There Howard will not only be racing in front of her hometown fans, but trying to win the Division 4 Championship.
"Whatever happens in Noble is going to happen," stated Howard. "That race doesn't effect how I'm going to do one way or the other. Noble isn't a turning point. If we do win the Division, I'll be happy with that, if we don't, I'll still be extremely happy with the way the year has gone."
"It's another race for us at this point," Howard concluded. "I really don't feel any more pressure for this race than I do at the rest of them. I'm just looking forward to the rest of the year. The car is doing well, we are enjoying racing it, and we are really looking forward to next year."