Brainerd: Shelly Howard wrap up

Spark plug failure ends Howard's day in round 2 BRAINERD, Minn. - Sometimes in drag racing, everything seems to go your way, and you can do nothing wrong. On the other hand, some days you just can't seem to get a break. The latter was the case...

Spark plug failure ends Howard's day in round 2

BRAINERD, Minn. - Sometimes in drag racing, everything seems to go your way, and you can do nothing wrong. On the other hand, some days you just can't seem to get a break. The latter was the case for NHRA Federal Mogul Dragster driver Shelly Howard during this past weekend's Colonel's Truck Accessory Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., when a metal shaving grounded out the No. 7 spark plug, causing her to slow and lose her second round match up with Billy Bybee.

Howard's problems started in qualifying. A broken main cap caused the team to have to change motors after Friday's first session. The already short handed crew, including one crew member who had recently broken an arm (Shane Conway), was unable to finish the motor change in time to make Friday's second session.

Nonetheless, the Tulsa, Okla., native qualified her Tom Conway tuned Blown Alcohol Dragster fifth with a 5.592 second pass at 251.53 mph during Saturday morning's final session. In round one, she received a single when her scheduled opponent Ed Schmeekle could not make the call. Howard improved on her qualifying time by running a 5.522 at 254.52 mph. In her second round match up with Bybee, she was never in the race, as the dead cylinder slowed her to a 5.956 at 225.86 mph, while Bybee improved on his earlier pace with a 5.524 at 253.26 mph. The quarterfinal finish gave her enough points to regain the fourth spot in national standings from Division 4 rival Jay Meyer.

"We had a cylinder go out," said Howard. "We got back from the run, and thought we had a bad plug wire, and checked it. When we found that wasn't the problem, we checked out the plug. There was a sliver of metal that had somehow adhered itself to the plug and grounded it out."

"I knew it was only running on seven cylinders in the burnout," Howard continued. "It didn't leave the line efficiently, and definitely didn't run as efficiently as it could. I could tell it wasn't going to go anywhere, shifted gears, and just kind of ran it out a little in case something happened to Bybee. That put an end to our weekend."

Even with the disappointing loss, Howard finds comfort in knowing that it only was a fluke problem, and no major engine damage was done. Especially considering her next race is the biggest event in drag racing, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at the famed Indianapolis Raceway Park.

"It's better than not knowing what happened," stated Howard. "It's better than finding something that broke in that round. We thought we had broken a motor at first, so I was extremely happy that no parts were hurt."

"We made a few points," added Howard. "The weekend was alright. Going into Indy, we have to look at it as another race, take it a round at a time, and make things work to our advantage."

-SHR-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shelly Howard
Tags NHRA-FM-NC