Tuesday, June 5, 2012


In one of the most dramatic moments of her young career, NHRA Pro Stock driver Grace Howell turned in a stellar performance as she drove the Cunningham Motorsports Mustang to a spot in the exclusive 16-car field at last weekend’s Toyota NHRA Super Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. After three of four qualifying runs, Howell was not in the field, but she drove to a solid 6.628-second run on Saturday afternoon to secure a spot, bumping our four-time world champion Jeg Coughlin in the process.

“That was so exciting; it was definitely the highlight of my career so far,” said the 26-year old Howell. “I knew that we needed to make a good run, but I wasn’t nervous and I didn’t panic. I knew that as long as I did my job, we could run quick enough to qualify. [Team owners] Jim and Gloria Cunningham have put so much into this team, I’m happy that I was able to reward them by putting the car into the field. We didn’t qualify at our last race in Atlanta and I really didn’t want a repeat of that here.”

For Howell, qualifying in the No. 16 spot meant a first round match-up against reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion and Englishtown low qualifier Jason Line. Although Howell was able to get a slight advantage off the starting line, she ultimately lost to Line as he posted a 6.52 to her 6.64-second run.

“I did my best but we just didn’t have enough for Jason,” said Howell. “Still, I felt like we did a good job for all the Ford fans that were in Englishtown and there were a lot of them.”

In six appearances this year, Howell has now qualified for three events and more importantly, she’s getting the type of real world experience that can only be gained during Sunday’s final eliminations.

“I have made enough runs in this car that I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable,” Howell said. “I’m able to give some good feedback to our crew and that helps them make better decisions when they’re tuning the car. It’s also great to be racing on Sunday’s because there is so much to be learned by actually racing against someone in eliminations. It’s the best on-the-job training there is. Now, that we’re starting to qualify, we can work on hopefully winning some rounds.”

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