Shelby Howard Turns First Truck Laps in Toyota Test
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Already a veteran of Atlanta Motor Speedway at the ripe old age of 18, Shelby Howard toured the high-banked speedway in a different vehicle Tuesday: a Toyota Tundra.
Howard, the development driver for Toyota and Bill Davis Racing, is helping the team gather information for its truck program next year, which will race for the first time at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck race on Saturday, March 13. Howard hopes to be the driver in those events, but so far no official announcement has been made.
Either way, Howard is trying to learn as much as he can for Toyota and BDR, and also trying to acclimate himself to a completely new vehicle.
¿It¿s a lot different than what I drove here in the past,¿ Howard said. ¿It has a lot more drag overall and a smaller motor, so we shouldn¿t have to lift ¿ but so far we are.¿
The team wasn¿t looking for speed during Tuesday¿s test, when Howard had a fast lap at 32.23 seconds (172.014 mph). Also testing was Matt Crafton, who turned the fast lap of the day in 31.44 seconds (176.336 mph).
Howard was the youngest driver to compete in the ARCA series at age 16 when he ran his first series race at Atlanta in 2001. He started 13th and finished 30th that year, then came back and finished 9th in the 2002 race. During the spring race this season, Howard finished second.
¿We¿ve got a sense of the track, but we¿ve got a lot we need to figure out with the vehicle,¿ Howard said.
Crew chief Dave Fuge Jr., recently added to the BDR operation, said Tuesday¿s test was mostly a fact-finding mission.
¿This is our first time all working together, so we¿re just starting at ground zero and trying to learn everything we can to make this Toyota program top-notch,¿ Fuge said. ¿It¿s just like starting over. We¿re trying to learn everything we can on the basics of this truck so we can start climbing the mountain.¿
Tickets are already on sale for the truck race and the rest of the March 12-14 Golden Corral 500 weekend. For more information, call the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211, or call Ticketmaster.