Dallas: Shelly Howard wins at the Motorplex

ENNIS, Texas - Just one day after losing the rained out Houston final, Federal Mogul Dragster driver Shelly Howard reasserted herself by picking up the win during Sunday's eliminations of this past weekend's NHRA Division 4 Federal Mogul Drag...

ENNIS, Texas - Just one day after losing the rained out Houston final, Federal Mogul Dragster driver Shelly Howard reasserted herself by picking up the win during Sunday's eliminations of this past weekend's NHRA Division 4 Federal Mogul Drag Racing Series event at the Texas Motorplex, just south of Dallas.

Howard, a registered nurse from Tulsa, Okla., qualified No. 4 with an elapsed time of 5.574 at 254.59 mph during Saturday's first qualifying session. Saturday evening's second qualifying session was a dual purpose run for the Howard team. Not only was it the final qualifying session, but would serve as the final round of the Houston Division 4 FMDRS race that was rained out two weeks prior. Howard red lighted, then smoked the tires immediately, giving her opponent Troy Buff, an easy win.

"The final round of the Houston race Saturday night didn't go very well for us," said Howard. "The car rolled through and deep staged, and I redlighted. As soon as I hit the throttle, the tires started shaking, and it smoked the tires, so we would have lost anyway. I wish we could have got a better qualifying run at least, but it worked out anyway."

However, Howard and her team did not let Saturday evening's loss get them down. Howard won her first round matchup with James Thompson, who smoked the tires, with a tire-shaking 5.752 at 245.76 mph. The semifinals would give Howard a rematch of the Houston final with Buff. This time, Howard would prevail on a .015 of a second starting line advantage, and held on for the win with a 5.526 at 253.95 mph over Buff's quicker but later 5.516 at 245.36 mph. In the final, Howard would face first time finalist Joe Fuentes. In another close race, Howard and Fuentes were neck and neck until the 1000' mark where Fuentes had engine problems and Howard drove away to win with a 5.503 at 256.92 mph. With the win and her semifinal victory over Houston winner Troy Buff, Howard took over the Division 4 points lead.

"Today went real well," Howard stated. "We had some luck in the first round, but we definitely earned the win today. Overall, it was a good weekend for us."

"Going into the final, we knew that Fuentes had a bit of a performance advantage on us," Howard added. "All you can do at that point is not to dwell on that. You just have to concentrate on doing what you have to do, and hope the car will perform the way it should. We should have run better than a .50. So the car has some fine tuning left in it. We just concentrated on our game plan, and what we had to do."

In two weeks, Howard will return to the site of her first victory for the third stop of the Division 4 FMDRS at State Capitol Dragway in Baton Rouge, La. Howard won the event in 1997, and hopes to add to her points lead with another win there this year.

"Really all you can hope for in Baton Rouge is to get a good qualifying position so you can have lane choice," Howard commented. "Everybody that runs well will be shooting for the same thing. We'll just go there and hope for the best. I know they have worked on the starting line, and hopefully it's much better than it was, because it was definitely a 'one lane' racetrack last year. Its a whole new race, and a whole new ball game. We're going to try not to dwell too much on Baton Rouge, and enjoy the win we had this weekend. We'll just hit Baton Rouge head on when we get there, and hope for the best."

www.ShellyHoward.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers James Thompson , Shelly Howard , Troy Buff