Howard clinches championship with semifinal finish NOBLE, Okla. - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard might not have won the battle, but won the war during this past weekend's Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series closer at Thunder...
Howard clinches championship with semifinal finish
NOBLE, Okla. - NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Shelly Howard might not have won the battle, but won the war during this past weekend's Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series closer at Thunder Valley Raceway Park just outside of Oklahoma City, Okla. Howard lost in the semifinals, but last year's champion Lee Callaway's first round loss clinched Howard's second Division 4 Championship.
Howard, from just down the road in Tulsa, Okla., started the event strong by qualifying No. 1 with a track-record 5.426 at 259.74 mph. In round one, just moments after seeing Callaway redlight, her opponent James Thompson redlighted against her, giving her the automatic win and the championship. After experiencing engine problems in that win, her problems continued in her semifinal matchup with Steve Federlin, when the car exploded the engine's burst panels on the burnout.
"We had a little bit of luck on our side, but the entire team has worked hard for this," said Howard. "We had an uphill road to climb after my husband Paul had a heart attack earlier in the year and we had to miss the Memphis race. To battle back from that really says a lot about this team. There are some really tough competitors in Division 4, so it makes it an honor to win. I wish we could have done better in the race this weekend, but we had some mechanical problems that kept on biting us."
"The crew did a great job this year and I really owe a lot to them for giving me a car capable of winning the championship," Howard continued. "Tom Conway has done a great job of tuning and giving us guidance along the way. Not only is he an expert at tuning one of these cars, but his years of driving experience helps him to help me with my driving. Mark Gardner, who has been with us since day one, had another excellent year as crew chief for us, along with Joe Monden who really helps out in all areas. My husband Paul, Brian VunCanon and Shane Conway all were a big help this year as well. Of course our sponsors, Valvoline, NGK, InsideTopAlcohol.com, St. Moritz Machine, Therapy Concepts, Broken Arrow Powder Coating and Tulsa Sheetmetal gave us the support to make the championship a reality."
Shelly Howard Racing will turn it's focus to this weekend's O'Reilly Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex just south of Dallas.