By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
This weekend’s ARCA Racing Series event at the historic Salem Speedway will feature another young up-and-coming driver when Colby Howard climbs behind the wheel of the No. 78 Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet.
Howard is a third-generation racer whose grandfather Buddy and father Rodney achieved great success running on the short tracks of South Carolina. The 16-year-old Howard began his career racing dirt bikes before switching to mini stocks and limited late models.
In 2016, Howard earned seven wins and finished runner-up in the Southeast Limited Late Model Series. Howard moved to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Late Model Stock division in 2017, where he finished second in South Carolina state points. Earlier this month, Howard won a late model stock race at the historic Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.
The Mason Mitchell Motorsports organization is a solid choice for a young driver looking to make their ARCA debut, as the team worked with 11 different drivers in 2018 and 18 different drivers in 2017. The past two seasons have seen the team earn three wins and 14 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes.
Howard was able to get his feet wet last week when he tested the high banks of Salem Speewday with team owner and 2014 ARCA champion Mason Mitchell and crew chief Mark Setzer.
“Salem is really difficult to get around,” Howard said after the test session. “It’s mainly a mental thing. You get so close to the wall in turns three and four and really have to back up your entry entering turn one. It’s so unique with turns one and two being completely worn out and three and four having newer pavement allowing for more grip.
“I learned a lot from the test. Being able to have resources like Mason Mitchell and crew chief Mark Setzer to lean on really helped me a lot getting up to speed and offering advice for what I need to improve on. This is a tremendous step in my racing career. I’m thankful for my family, friends, fans and MMM for believing in me. If we run all 200 laps we should be able to earn a solid top-five.”
In nine previous starts at Salem, Mason Mitchell Motorsports has earned three top-five and six top-10 results.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 is set to take the green flag this Sunday, April 22 at 2 p.m. ET with live coverage on MAVTV. Practice and qualifying is set for Saturday with live timing and scoring of all the on-track activities throughout the weekend available at ARCARacing.com.