Howard Frustrated Despite Contending For Darlington Win

Howard

Colby Howard in action Friday at Darlington Raceway. (Jacob Seelman photo)

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Had one or two things broken differently during Friday night’s overtime restart, Colby Howard believed he had a chance to go to victory lane in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Instead, contact that led to a late shuffle in the final two laps left Howard with a seventh-place finish, his best of the season in two starts for TRICON Garage but disappointing given the circumstances.

Howard ran most of the final stage at Darlington Raceway inside the top 10, avoiding a six-car pileup on a lap-97 restart and then showing consistent speed during the ensuing green-flag run.

He gained track position during the final pit stop prior to overtime and lined up third for the two-lap sprint to the finish. From there, Howard gave a huge push to leader and eventual winner Ross Chastain that propelled the NASCAR Cup Series regular out in front of the field.

As Chastain pulled away, Howard ended up in a vulnerable position when Nick Sanchez ducked to the inside to make it a three-wide battle for second, just tapping Howard’s left-rear fender moments later.

That minimal contact shot Howard up the racetrack and into the side of Ty Majeski’s Ford, breaking both trucks’ momentum and forcing the Simpsonville, S.C., native to recover quickly as others streamed past.

The 22-year-old regained his composure and hung on for his second-best finish in 53 career Truck Series starts, as well as his best result since joining TRICON Garage for a part-time schedule and switching manufacturers from Chevrolet to Toyota.

Despite that positive, however, Howard climbed from his truck and was frustrated at the late-race sequence which ultimately scuttled his chances to contend for a breakthrough Truck Series win.

“That wasn’t me trying to [send it]; that was more of just idiots out there at the end,” Howard explained. “I was going to play it safe and let the front row dictate what happened, and take my future from there, but somebody behind me decided to be a flat-out idiot and take us out.

“To win a race you have to use your head, and that kid can’t use his head,” he added, referencing Sanchez.

The final result might not have been what Howard hoped for, but he believes that he was

“I think so,” Howard noted. “When we started mid-pack, we drove through the field to 13th, and even with having a bad pit stop – the jack dropped on us – and falling back to 20th we drove right back through traffic and lined up [with a shot] to win the race. That’s part of what you want, but we wanted to seal the deal tonight.

“It could have been a really special night, but hopefully we can have more nights like this in the future.”

Howard leaves Darlington unsure of when his next Truck Series race will be, but noted that he’s actively working to secure partners that will allow him to return to TRICON “sooner, rather than later.”

He did tip, though, that performing well at his home-state racetrack Friday meant a great deal to him.

“It means a lot, being able to come here and race in South Carolina,” said Howard. “Darlington’s a really good track for me; I’ve always had some good runs here, but this area is where my career started [in late models] so you always have good memories when you get to come home.

“Everybody at TRICON has welcomed me with open arms here and treated me just like anybody else. They put a lot of effort into these trucks to make them go as fast, and it’s been a pleasure to be a part of this group so far this year.”

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.