Pocono weekend extra special for Howard Long Pond, PA (July 22, 2003) -- A doubleheader of racing and a very important birthday -- Shelby Howard has an exciting weekend ahead of him. A win in Friday night's ARCA Giant Food Stores 200 would be...
Pocono weekend extra special for Howard
Long Pond, PA (July 22, 2003) -- A doubleheader of racing and a very important birthday -- Shelby Howard has an exciting weekend ahead of him.
A win in Friday night's ARCA Giant Food Stores 200 would be extra special because that's the day Howard turns 18 years old. Being out front when the checkers drop would be the best gift he could ask for.
"Holding the trophy and doing the 'hat dance' in Victory Lane would be a great way to celebrate," said Howard. "Pocono is a great track, a lot of fun to drive, so to win there would be the perfect birthday present."
The weekend kicks off earlier than originally planned due to a rainout in June forcing the ARCA Giant Food Stores 200 to be rescheduled for Friday, July 25. A Happy Hour session prior to the race will help since there will be no qualifying for the event. Howard qualified his #64 Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge in 6th last June, so that's where he'll start.
"We had a fast race car and expect it to be even better come Friday," Howard said. "Ernie Elliott power is always strong and the team has done a good job this year. If we don't have any surprises, we'll be tough."
The competition gets even stiffer for Saturday's Pennsylvania 200. A handful of Winston Cup-backed teams have entered their drivers to give them more seat time, so a stout car and an excellent run are critical to having a good day.
"We'll definitely have to bring our 'A' game to the table if we hope to beat those guys," said Howard. "It will be cool running out there with them. It's always a good show when the Cup guys show up."
Turning 18 on Friday makes Howard NASCAR-eligible and opens up numerous possibilities for the Greenwood, Indiana teenager. He has been approved by NASCAR, so he'll be all set after reaching the minimum age limit. A debut at Indianapolis Raceway Park would have been ideal considering it is his home track, but unfortunately that wasn't able to be worked out. Two or three starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series or the NASCAR Busch Series later in the year are still the goal.
Howard has two wins (Salem and Kansas), six top fives, and seven top tens in 11 starts this season. He's 4th in the ARCA RE/MAX point standings, only 5 markers out of 3rd.
The ARCA Giant Food Stores 200 starts at 5:15 pm EDT and will be shown later that evening at 9:30 pm on SPEED Channel. The Pennsylvania 200 is set for 1 pm on Saturday and will have same-day coverage at 8 pm also on SPEED.