Howard impresses NASCAR nation in debut Confidence builds for this week's ARCA race at Lowe's Indianapolis, IN (October 5, 2003) -- 18-year-old Shelby Howard made quite an impression on the NASCAR garage in Saturday's Busch Series race at Kansas...
Howard impresses NASCAR nation in debut
Confidence builds for this week's ARCA race at Lowe's
Indianapolis, IN (October 5, 2003) -- 18-year-old Shelby Howard made quite an impression on the NASCAR garage in Saturday's Busch Series race at Kansas Speedway. The Greenwood, Indiana teenager not only captured a Top 20 finish in his first Busch race ever, but left the NASCAR Nation astounded by the fact that he had never sat in the car before this weekend.
A 3-time ARCA winner this year, Howard showed he is quite the shoe by performing so well without any prior experience in a Busch car. He raced clean, was competitive, made no mistakes, and didn't put a scratch on the #43 Dr Pepper Dodge in the Mr. Goodcents 300. It turned out to be a very productive "test session" for Howard, to say the least.
"It was a good weekend," Howard said after finishing 20th, only one lap down to the leaders. "Basically, we were treating this like we would a test session. Since I had never been in these cars before, I just wanted to get a feel for the way the car handles, learn how the Goodyear tires perform, and improve on my lap times. I feel like I adjusted fairly quickly (coming out of ARCA), so today's outcome was an added bonus. I want to thank Dr Pepper and Curb-Agajanian Motorsports for this amazing opportunity."
In practice on Friday, the series newcomer spent the session getting used to the car and getting through the corners. His Dodge was darting around, so they changed the steering box, which solved the problem. Howard finished the session by running a few laps in qualifying trim.
Howard came through in a big way during qualifying when he had to make the race on speed. With 49 other cars entered, Howard and the #43 team weren't going to get in on a provisional. He wound up with a 34th starting position.
Once the race started, Howard said his Dr Pepper Dodge was tight. Despite that condition, he steadily moved up during the race. His car was better on long runs, but numerous cautions throughout the day kept that from working in his favor. Having gone down 3 laps to the leaders at one point, Howard fought until he found himself on the lead lap after the caution flew for Johnny Sauter's damaged race car. With less than 10 to go, the leaders got by him to put him down a lap.
There's no shame in winding up only one lap down to wily Busch veterans like David Green and Jason Keller, along with Winston Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Joe Nemechek, Jamie McMurray, and Casey Mears--especially in your debut.
There are some drastic differences between the ARCA and Busch Series.
"The Busch cars drive a lot different than the ARCA cars," said Howard. "The setup is different and the car is twitchier. I could drive about 20 car lengths deeper into the corners without worrying about traction. The competition is about 25 times tougher. (ARCA Champion) Frank Kimmel is definitely talented, but half of the field today was as good as him. It's a whole lot tougher up here."
Howard now heads to Charlotte feeling really good about his chances in Thursday night's 100-lap ARCA event at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"We are taking the car we had at Chicago," said Howard. "We were in the top three in practice up there. We changed the front clip, so we'll have to wait and see. The weather messed us up, so we didn't get to test at Lowe's like we wanted to. The Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge should be a top three car this week."
The EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 150 at Lowe's Motor Speedway will take the green flag at 9:30 pm ET on Thursday, October 9th. The race will be televised by SPEED Channel on a same-day/delayed basis with coverage beginning at 10:00 pm ET. It will also be carried live by PRN beginning at 8:30 pm.