MILLINGTON, Tenn. - People in the drag racing sport will tell you that consistency wins drag races. Federal Mogul Dragster driver Shelly Howard must have had that in mind at this past weekend's NHRA Division 4 Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series...
MILLINGTON, Tenn. - People in the drag racing sport will tell you that consistency wins drag races. Federal Mogul Dragster driver Shelly Howard must have had that in mind at this past weekend's NHRA Division 4 Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series Race Four at Memphis Motorsports Park, just outside of Memphis. Howard stayed in the mid 5.40's all weekend to win her second event of the year.
Howard, a registered nurse from Tulsa, Okla., entered the event without one of her most vital crew members, her husband, Dr. Paul Howard. Dr. Howard, who normally assists with the clutch and various other departments of the team, was forced to stay home on call. It was the first race in several years that Howard raced without her husband being there.
"It was definitely tougher without Paul here," said Howard. "He was on pins and needles back home without us. The rest of the team pulled together, and picked up the space he left. We wish he could have been here for the win. My crew chief Mark Gardner, Shane Conway, Rick Meyer, Joe Monden, and Angie Fuller did a great job all weekend. And of course, Tom Conway's tuning is what brought us the win."
Howard qualified her Conway tuned Blown Alcohol Dragster third with an elapsed time of 5.495 seconds at 257.28 mph. In round one, she easily defeated Randy Meyer's A/Fuel Dragster with a consistent 5.489 at 257.78 mph. With that win, and Division 4 rival Troy Buff's win in round one, set the stage for a battle of the points leaders in the semifinals. Buff entered the event 11 points ahead of Howard in Division 4 standings. The round lived up to it's billing, as Howard took a slight holeshot, and stayed ahead the duration of the run to win with a 5.464 at 259.71 mph to Buff's right-there 5.475 at 254.09 mph. In the finals, she would square off against A/Fuel powerhouse Keith Stark. Stark never was in the race, as Howard pulled away to the win with her second straight 5.46, at 259.16 mph to Stark's cylinder-dropping 8.46 at 107 mph.
"We had the car running fairly consistently," commented Howard. "We wish it could have ran better, but we had bad tireshake every pass. We tried to get it though that and down the track. Tom Conway did a great job of tuning, the team did great, and we won the race. Everything worked out well."
With the win, Howard leaves the event with 266 points in Division 4, followed by Buff's 235 points, a 31 point margin. While Howard hopes to maintain the lead for her first Division Championship, she knows the road ahead will be tough.
"We'd really like to win the Division Championship," stated Howard. "We've been doing this for several years, and been stuck in third place for the last three years. We really hope to better that this year. There is some other really good teams out there in this Division, so I don't take it for granted. We just have to treat each race as a new race, and forget about the Championship. We know we still have a tough road ahead of us, but we're optimistic."
Highlights from the action in Memphis will air on this week's NHRA Heat, at 6 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2.