Howard rockets to a career-best 5th at Pocono. Long Pond, PA (7-29-02)-- 17-year-old ARCA RE/MAX rookie Shelby Howard had a great birthday. . . he just wasn't able to enjoy it until two days later. Howard gave the crowd their own gift with ...
Howard rockets to a career-best 5th at Pocono.
Long Pond, PA (7-29-02)-- 17-year-old ARCA RE/MAX rookie Shelby Howard had a great birthday. . . he just wasn't able to enjoy it until two days later. Howard gave the crowd their own gift with an extremely gritty performance, overcoming a poor starting position (34th) to finish 5th Saturday afternoon in the Pepsi 200 at Pocono Raceway.
Last Thursday, things weren't looking nearly as bright, though. Howard and the #64 CIMCO Racing team had switched to a Dodge Intrepid R/T since their race the previous week at Berlin, so they had to flatten the learning curve out as best they could. The team was excited to see how strong their new Dodge was, but their spirits dropped, at least momentarily, when they lost the engine during their qualifying run.
The team quickly rallied and got their backup engine in the car and ready to fire up. The only problem they could foresee with the second Ernie Elliott powerplant was the fact that it already had a full Cup race on it. "We knew Ernie Elliott built some fantastic engines, but this was our first race with them, so we didn't know exactly what to expect. We know now, don't we?" laughed Howard afterwards.
On Friday, Howard climbed back in his unsponsored Dodge and ran a few laps during happy hour before parking it until the race. He was only 19th fastest, but they knew what changes they needed to make and didn't want to tax the engine before the race on Saturday.
Once the race started the next day, the Greenwood Indiana resident wasted no time charging through the pack, climbing up to 11th by lap 29. A tight racecar led to a stop under caution on lap 27 and again on lap 52. Within 10 more laps, Howard had moved into the 5th spot with only 18 laps to go. Despite closing in on Bobby Gerhart over the final few laps, Howard held his position to capture a new career-best series finish.
"It feels awesome to get my first top 5 finish here this week at Pocono," Howard said. "Our Dodge responded well to the changes we made throughout the race and the Ernie Elliott engine was flat out amazing. We had our work cut out for us coming from the back, so we just kept digging the whole race. This is exactly what we needed heading into Nashville."
Howard jumps two spots in the standings this week, moving up to 6th. He is now only 50 points the 4th place Chase Montgomery.
Howard and the CIMCO Racing crew will next head to Nashville for the Waste Management 200 on Saturday, August 9. The 151-lap race is set to start at 9:30 p.m. EDT.
TOP 5 at Pocono: 1. Casey Atwood 2. Jason Jarrett 3. Mario Gosselin 4. Bobby Gerhart 5. Shelby Howard
Point Standings: 1. Frank Kimmel 2. Chad Blount 3. Jason Jarrett 4. Chase Montgomery 5. Damon Lusk 6. Shelby Howard