By Ken Bruce
OSWEGO, N.Y. (October 10th, 2019) – When Duane Howard headed north to race this weekend at NAPA Super DIRT Week, the Oley, Pa., driver wasn’t sure what to expect. The veteran PA throttle jockey with 258 wins on his resume had never turned a lap on the asphalt turned clay big five-eight’s mile oval until Wednesday’s big block practice session. I talked to Howard about his first Oswego experience and how he felt taking his first laps at the historical speedway.
“Nice weather, that’s for sure, it’s not what you expect when you come to Super DIRT Week,” mentioned Howard. “The track is very racy, smooth as glass, slippery which makes it really nice for the driver. So far, it’s going really good and the nice weather really helps with that.”
For Howard, who has competed in past Super DIRT Week’s at the “Moody Mile”, competing at the Oswego version of SDW has been something the versatile driver has wanted to try. When the opportunity came to drive for Ryan Alsdorf Howard jumped at the offer. The No. 8A Bicknell chassis has a history at Oswego with Rick Laubach putting it on the outside pole only two years ago so Howard knew he had a car capable of running well.
“I knew the car was a good car, but I still wasn’t sure what we had until we hit the track for practice on Wednesday,” explained Howard. “Surprisingly, it was good right off the trailer yesterday for practice and we got a little better today but on that last session of practice I think we might’ve dialed it out a little bit there so we’ll see what happens here in time trials.”
Howard went out in time trial session number four just as the track was starting to pick up speed and when all was said and done, Howard had the No. 8A qualified in the eleventh position.
“We had a really good car out there for time trial,” cited Howard. “I really think I left something on the table during our laps. Going thru three and four on the second lap I missed it, I didn’t charge it enough and back end sat down and I lost the nose but man we have a really good race car. The Alsdorf family has a real good race car. We’ve made some very good decisions and if we could’ve increased our time in that last practice session and time trialed in the last group of cars instead of where we did this car could’ve been in the top six and I think that’s where we should be. This Precision motor is really good, and I think with a little better practice speed we could’ve been in the top six.”
Howard’s good qualifying time should give him a second row starting spot in one of tomorrow’s triple thirty qualifying races. The team is now focused on running a smart qualifying race as they look ahead to making the 200-lap main event on Sunday.
“Our goal tomorrow is keeping the car in one piece and put it in the show,” a confident Howard explained. “We start up front and I feel like the car can go right around the rail on the bottom. I think I have a real good race car and if we don’t have any issues, we should able to get locked into the show.”
Qualifying is big for Howard tomorrow so as not to have to run in Saturday’s non-qualifiers races as Howard is slated to head to Afton to race in the Short Track Nationals in his normal ride, the Norm Hansell No. 357.