Chicagoland: Shelby Howard race report

Stop at Chicago turns sour for Howard Joliet, IL (September 8, 2003) -- His Chicagoland debut definitely didn't end up as originally planned by Shelby Howard. The 18-year-old ARCA RE/MAX driver finished 22nd in the ReadyHosting.com 200 on ...

Stop at Chicago turns sour for Howard

Joliet, IL (September 8, 2003) -- His Chicagoland debut definitely didn't end up as originally planned by Shelby Howard. The 18-year-old ARCA RE/MAX driver finished 22nd in the ReadyHosting.com 200 on Saturday, ending the day a victim of a flat tire and a slipping clutch.

"The Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge was super fast, we just keep running into bad luck," Howard said after his third DNF in his last four starts. "We were just a tick slower than Frank (Kimmel) early in the race, but the clutch started slipping, then a tire went down. We were pretty much done after that."

Howard and crew had the #64 Dodge turning some quick laps in the first practice session, running 3rd fastest in his first official tour around the 1.5-mile speedway, located about 30 miles southwest of Chicago. After slowing down slightly on his qualifying run, Howard hot-footed it for 3rd in the final practice, but lasted only a handful of laps before his clutch started slipping.

Without enough time in practice to repair the car and get back out, the team concentrated on preparing for race day on Saturday. The feel-good factor only lasted for about the first 30 laps after the green flag dropped.

"We were running near the front, but the clutch was going out on us again," said Howard. "We kept falling back and were a non-factor at that point. After hitting the wall (in turn one, after the right front tire went out), we came in to repair what we could and went back out. We did everything we could today. The team worked hard and showed their ability to bounce back and hung in there. I appreciate their dedication and 'refuse to lose' attitude.

"We have to shake this off and get our Dodge ready for Salem. We're looking for a repeat." Howard won the Salem race last April, securing his place in the record books as the youngest winner ever in ARCA.

The Eddie Gilstrap Motors 200 at Salem (Indiana) Speedway will be under the lights and on SPEED live this Saturday night at 8 pm ET. It will be re-aired at 1 am early Sunday morning.

-shr-

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Series ARCA
Drivers Shelby Howard