Gainesville: Shelly Howard wrap up

New car 'blues' leads to quarterfinal exit for Howard GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Most people would think that when getting a brand new racecar, you should automatically be able to step up and go faster than your old car right off the bat. Such was not...

New car 'blues' leads to quarterfinal exit for Howard

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Most people would think that when getting a brand new racecar, you should automatically be able to step up and go faster than your old car right off the bat. Such was not the case for NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard during this past weekend's Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

Instead of being able to pick up right where they left off before her crash last year, the new car has sent the team back to the drawing board to find the combination the new car likes. Four runs was not enough for Howard and her team to get a handle on the new car, and she lost a close contest with Ben Marshall in round two.

Howard, who is a registered nurse in Tulsa, Okla., when not racing, qualified her Tom Conway tuned Blown Alcohol Dragster fourth in the sixteen car field with a 5.488 second elapsed time at 255.87 mph right out of the trailer on Friday. In the first round, she took out Brooks Brown with an off-pace 5.717 at 235.97 mph. The round came at a high expense as the team found a crack in the block after the run. The team put a new motor in for Sunday's second round, but came up just short of defeating Marshall's injected-nitro entry. Marshall took the win with a 5.578 at 244.25 mph to Howard's right-there 5.596 at 254.28 mph.

"We are just trying to figure this new car out," said Howard. "This was the first race on this car, and it just takes time and runs down the track to figure one of these cars out. We would have loved to win the first race out with it, and trust me, it wasn't from a lack of trying, but it just didn't end up that way. This car acts totally different, so it really is a whole new learning curve. With every run, we learn more about it, so things are going in the right direction, and I have no doubt that my tuner Tom Conway will have a handle on it very soon."

The team left straight from Gainesville to go to their next race, the Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series opener at Memphis Motorsports Park just outside of Memphis, Tenn. Despite winning the Division 4 Championship last year, rather than calling this race the start of her 'title defense' her team is looking at it as the first race in a new season.

"By no means do I think I have an advantage just because I won the Championship last year," stated Howard. "It's a whole new year, and anything can happen. That was last year and this is now. Don't get me wrong, winning the Championship was a great accomplishment for our team, but we can't let ourselves get complacent because of that. We are going to have to work every bit as hard if not harder if we want to win it again this year."

Qualifying begins on Friday at 4 p.m. 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 the latest news in the world of alcohol racing.

-shelly howard racing-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shelly Howard