USAR: Salem: Northern Division round 10 preview

Howard hopes Salem provides lift this weekend Myrtle Beach, SC - One driver looking forward to returning to Salem Speedway this weekend is Woody Howard. Howard hopes to defend his title this Saturday night in the running of the ...

Howard hopes Salem provides lift this weekend

Myrtle Beach, SC - One driver looking forward to returning to Salem Speedway this weekend is Woody Howard. Howard hopes to defend his title this Saturday night in the running of the BFGoodrich Tires 250 presented by Holley Performance. Howard will join over 30 drivers as they attempt to derail the Northern Division steam roller, also known as Benny Gordon, who enters this weekend winner of four consecutive races and a sizable 314-point lead over second-place Jeff Agnew (1,475-1,161).

Despite having an average finishing position of ninth so far in 2006 and sitting just 64 points behind Agnew for second place in the standings, the season hasn't gone the way Howard would have hoped back in April. Howard feels returning to a track he won at in 2005 will provide the boost his team needs as the regular season winds down.

"We are really focusing on trying to reach second place by the end of the regular season," said Howard. "Benny has it all but won for the regular season and we want to get through Salem with at least a top-five or better yet a win. After Salem we feel real good about the final two tracks on the regular season and with the Championship Series format if you can enter in second place you have a great shot at challenging for the title."

As for this weekend, Woody feels his team is ready for the challenging high banks of Salem.

"We have our setup notes from last year and I think we will be even better prepared this year to improve on our qualifying position from last year [10th]," said Howard. "We treat it like any other race but you have to be prepared and alert at all times because things happen so fast there."

Another driver looking forward to this weekend is Indiana native Shelby Howard. Shelby won the Advance Auto Parts Pole for last year's race and was clearly one of the favorites until he was collected in a multi-car accident on the front stretch after leading the first 51 laps of the race. Shelby finally broke through to collect his first career Hooters Pro Cup Series win in May at Jennerstown Speedway and should be one of the favorites as he attempts to get his second in his home state.

As for Gordon, the defending Series champion finished seventh at Salem last year and was racing Johnny Rumley for the lead in 2004 when the duo collected one another in an accident ending his hopes for a win. Gordon essentially could take this weekend off and still remain atop the standings so for now the battle will be for second among the top 10 drivers. Agnew leads a group of five drivers within 103 points of second place with three races remaining.

Jack Bailey enters this weekend 37 points behind Agnew (1,161-1,124) as he makes his first start at Salem while Rumley trails by only three points to Bailey (1,124-1,121). For more information on the BFGoodrich Tires 250 presented by Holley Performance please contact Salem Speedway at 812-883-6504 or visit www.salemspeedway.com <http://www.salemspeedway.com/> .

WHAT: BFGoodrich Tires 250 presented by Holley Performance Products
Race No. 19 of 30 (Northern Division Race 10 of 12)

WHERE:                       Salem Speedway - Salem, IN

.555-mile, high-banked asphalt oval

WHEN: Saturday, July 29, 2006 - 7 p.m. (ET)

DISTANCE: 250 Laps/139 Miles

POSTED AWARDS: $131,649 (Includes $36,400 Point Fund)

TELEVISION:               SPEED Channel, Wednesday, August 2, 2006 (4 p.m. ET)

SPEED Channel, Friday, August 4, 2006 (12 Noon ET)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Saturday, July 29, 2006:
11:30 a.m. Pro Cup Practice Begins
1:30 p.m. Pro Cup Practice Ends
3:30 p.m. Front Gates Open
4:30 p.m. Pro Cup Qualifying Time Trials
5:45 p.m. Autograph Session
6:30 p.m. Pre-Race Ceremonies
7 p.m. BFGoodrich Tires 250 presented by Holley Performance Products

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Shelby Howard , Jack Bailey , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew