Steven Howard Looking Forward To Return Trip To Greenville-Pickens Speedway For 'Rock 101' 150 On Saturday Daytona Beach, Fla. (August 10, 2004) - As the old saying goes, there's no place like home. That's the sentiment that NASCAR AutoZone...
Steven Howard Looking Forward To Return Trip To Greenville-Pickens Speedway For 'Rock 101' 150 On Saturday
Daytona Beach, Fla. (August 10, 2004) - As the old saying goes, there's no place like home. That's the sentiment that NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series driver Steven Howard is focusing on as he heads into the 'Rock 101' 150 this Saturday night at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway.
The South Carolina native, who resides in the nearby town of Greer, is looking for big things as the Southeast Series makes its second visit of the 2004 season to the famed Greenville-Pickens track. Based on Howard's record at the half-mile facility, his fellow competitors are fully aware that he will be one of the favorites. As a former track champion, after all, Howard has turned many laps around Greenville-Pickens.
"When we go to all these different tracks, everybody always wants to know who the driver to beat is going to be," says rookie sensation J.R. Norris. "When we go to Greenville-Pickens, we all know that Steven Howard is the guy to beat. I know I'm looking for him to be strong this weekend. Steven ran good in the first race at Greenville-Pickens but ended up having some trouble late in the race (finishing 13th). I'm sure he took those notes down and knows what it's going to take to make his car even better. Steven Howard is going to be a factor."
Howard comes into Saturday night's race seeking for his fifth career Southeast Series victory and first win of the 2004 season.
"I've done pretty well at Greenville-Pickens in the past and I'm looking forward to getting back there," Howard says. "I've got a lot of laps under my belt at that place and that does give me a lot of confidence. Then again guys like Jeff Fultz are good at every track we go to. I think we're going to have a car that's capable of running in the top-five. It's always good to be racing around home in front of my family and friends."
Fultz, meanwhile, has been a man on a mission and is coming off his fourth victory of the season last Saturday night at Myrtle Beach Speedway. The win allowed Fultz to tie Wayne Anderson on the all-time Southeast Series victory list with 21 triumphs. In fact, Fultz has won the last two races at Greenville-Pickens and will head into Saturday night looking for a Southeast Series record-tying third victory at the track.
Fultz is the current Southeast Series point leader in a battle for the title that is nowhere close to being decided. Fultz holds a 42-point advantage over Norris, who sits second, with Erik Darnell in third, only 49 points behind the leader.
Howard admits feeling a little bit of added pressure when he races at Greenville-Pickens because he brings a large crowd of friends and family to watch him compete.
"In our first race at Greenville-Pickens earlier in the year, I was nervous," Howard says. "I told somebody that I felt more pressure than I had ever felt in my life. I want to win at Greenville-Pickens. Heck, I want to win everywhere I go. There are a lot of people that come watch these Southeast Series races because they are always so close. I hope we do a little better than we did there the last time. Coming into this race, I don't feel nearly the amount of pressure than I did the first time we were there back in June. If I have a good car I expect we might have something for them."
Howard says this season has been somewhat of a disappointment because he has yet to win a race.
"I feel like I should be racing with guys like Jeff Fultz every race and we haven't been able to do that," Howard says. "I know he has a lot of experience that I don't, but I know I'm not supposed to be running around 10th every week. It's not from a lack of effort because this team has been working as hard as they can. Maybe we can get things turned around Saturday night. I've got a lot of laps at Greenville-Pickens so hopefully that experience will pay off for me."
Howard won the track championship at Greenville-Pickens in 1996 en route to scoring the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series title.
"Steven Howard is really a great guy and comes from a super nice family," Fultz says of his fellow competitor. "If everything goes well for him this weekend, he's going to be tough to beat. Anytime you race against him at Greenville-Pickens, he is the guy to beat. I'm looking for Steven to be very strong this weekend."