Ennis: Shelly Howard preview

Howard shooting to get season on track in Dallas. ENNIS, Texas - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard has had a sluggish start to the 2002 season. After suffering a horrific top-end crash at the end of last year that destroyed the car...

Howard shooting to get season on track in Dallas.

ENNIS, Texas - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard has had a sluggish start to the 2002 season. After suffering a horrific top-end crash at the end of last year that destroyed the car that won her the Division 4 Championship, her new car seems to have a 'mind of its own.' Howard and her team hope to get one step closer to finding the combination the new car likes during this weekend's NHRA Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas.

Howard, who is a registered nurse in Tulsa, Okla., when she is not racing, took a tough first round loss during last weekend's O'Reilly Nationals in Houston against Gary Ormsby, Jr. Howard took a large starting line advantage and ran a strong 5.529 second elapsed time at 253.28 mph, but was overtaken by Ormsby's surprise 5.313 at 244.12 mph in his A/Fuel Dragster, more than a tenth quicker than his career best time.

"There isn't much to say about that," said Howard. "Sure, we might have been able to run a little bit better than we did, but it wasn't going to be anywhere close to a .31. You just can't run that fast in a blown car in those conditions. Shields ran a .44, and he was the quickest blown car of the round, everyone else was in the low .50's. When one of those A/Fuel cars pulls out a run like that, there isn't much you can do."

Nevertheless, Howard still races by the credo 'every race is a new ballgame,' and doesn't plan to let her other races this year get her down.

"This weekend is a whole new race," commented Howard. "Sure, we would have liked to do better at Houston and the other races this year, but that's all behind us now. This new car has a mind of it's own compared to our old car. Simply put, our old combination just doesn't work the same this car, so it's just taking runs down the track to figure out what it wants. It drives different, and responds different to tuning changes. Myself and the team are working just as hard as we can to bridge the gap. We'll get there, I have no doubt in them."

Qualifying begins at 4 p.m. Friday for the Top Alcohol Dragsters, with two more sessions on Saturday. Final eliminations will conclude the event on Sunday. Stay tuned to InsideTopAlcohol.com for daily updates of the action and photo highlights from the Motorplex.

-shr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shelly Howard