Dallas: Shelly Howard preview

ENNIS, Texas - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard will make her return to competition during this upcoming weekend's Top Alcohol Warm Up presented by InsideTopAlcohol.com at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas. The defending NHRA...

ENNIS, Texas - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard will make her return to competition during this upcoming weekend's Top Alcohol Warm Up presented by InsideTopAlcohol.com at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas. The defending NHRA Division 4 Champ will debut a brand-new Dave Uyehara chassis with a fresh paint job supplied by PPG Automotive Finishes.

Howard, from Tulsa, Okla., ended her 2001 Championship season in a horrific top end crash during qualifying at the Division 4 event in Noble, Okla., that destroyed the car but left her unhurt.

With the advent of this year's Top Alcohol Warm Up, Howard and team plan to use this weekend's event to get the new car broke in, and to get a run on the 2002 season.

"I'm looking at it as a weekend to do some testing and tuning," said Howard. "We will use it to make some shakedown passes on the car, and to get some practice in for myself. We want to try to get back to the performance we were at during the end of last year. It's basically an opportunity to go out there and fine tune the car."

The team is also excited about competing the new car this year, and hopes to pick up some performance with the new 'pipe.' The car that Howard won the Division Championship last year had six full seasons on it.

"It is exciting to have a new car," stated Howard. "You always wonder what this car will do because we raced six full seasons on the old car, so we pretty much knew what it was going to do from round to round. We do feel like it is giving us a new start. It is exciting getting the car together, but it is a lot of work. We nearly destroyed everything on the other car except for the motor and drive train. It really has been a huge expense."

"Mark Gardner, our crew chief, has basically assembled the car," continued Howard. "He has a full time job on top of what he does here at the shop; without him we would not be ready for this weekend. We really owe having the car together and being ready to test this weekend to Mark. He has been with us the last 14 years, and I don't like to race without him."

In addition to her Division 4 Championship, Howard finished a career-best fifth nationally. Rather than set a goal for a particular end of season finish, Howard plans to use the same 'one round at a time' philosophy that brought her team success last season.

"I'm very happy with the outcome of last season," cited Howard. "I'm definitely not going to try to go out there and race on the laurels of the previous year. This is a whole new season, you can do good one year, and come out and fall on your face the next. We just plan to play it one round at a time and get this new car dialed in. Basically, we are responsible for preparing the car, and Tom [Conway] handles the tuning. Hopefully, we can all do our jobs to where we will perform well. I just take it one race and one round at a time; I don't set any huge goals, bigger or better than last year."

Testing begins on Friday for the Top Alcohol cars. On Saturday, the Top Alcohol cars will put on a Chicago-style match race that will highlight the SpeedFest 2002 fastest street car event that will be going on as well. Testing will continue on Sunday. Stay tuned to InsideTopAlcohol.com for the latest updates from the Motorplex.

For more information on the Howard Racing Team, visit their website at ShellyHoward.com, a RacerPage.com website.

-shr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shelly Howard