Learning the line and feeling comfortable behind the wheel is what every driver strives for. That is why the 18-year-old teenager from Greenwood, Indiana, Shelby Howard, and the Mack Trucks-Beck Dodge team has enlisted the help of NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver, Derrike Cope.

Cope was on hand today as Howard and a handful of other drivers took part in an open test session to prepare for the 200. The ARCA RE/MAX Series race will take place at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, September 6. The 1990 Daytona 500 winner has been a consultant for Howard and his team since the beginning of the year. ?I?ve been there to answer a lot of questions for him and try to give some guidance as far as the tendencies of the race tracks,? said Cope of his role as a consultant.

Howard has taken the advice of Cope and it has paid off early. ?It?s working out pretty well. He mainly helps us with getting the car set up. There?s a lot to learn when you come to these places as far as aerodynamics of the cars and he has helped us out on that end a whole bunch. It has definitely stepped our program up this year,? said Howard.

Stepped it up may be an understatement. At the age of 17, Howard became the youngest winner in ARCA RE/MAX Series history with a win in April 2003. A little more than a month later, he went on to win again. Howard also finds himself currently tied for third place in the point standings.

Success at an early age can create a lot of pressure and stress. This driver admits there is a lot to learn, but isn?t worried. ?(Success) doesn?t put any pressure on me. I?ve been racing for eight years now and you learn how to deal with all that. It doesn?t bother me and we just try to do the best we can every week.?

Cope wants to see this success continue at Chicagoland Speedway. ?Basically, I told him (Chicagoland Speedway) has some unique characteristics and was similar to a place that he has been to, being that of Kansas Speedway with a few changes.?

Cope admits the trust that has developed between himself and Howard did not occur overnight. ?Initially, I think it was a situation where he had to gain confidence in what I was telling him,? Cope said. ?When your 17 years old, as he was when we started, you certainly don?t have a lot of experience to draw from and are bit untrusting of what the car is going to do.?

In an effort to alleviate that Cope said he has had Howard look back at similar tracks he has raced at. ?I try to have him think about the race tracks he has experience and draw from the tendencies of those so he can at least have in his mind what the race track?s going to give him.?

Howard and his ARCA RE/MAX Series counterparts will be gunning for a win in the third running of the 200. It is the support event for the sold-out September 6-7 ARCA/IRL weekend. The weekend also includes the Chicagoland 100, IRL Infiniti Pro Series race on Saturday, September 6 and the Delphi Indy 300, IRL IndyCar Series race on Sunday, September 7.

Saturday and Sunday are sold-out, but tickets still remain for ARCA/IRL Practice Day, which will take place on Friday, September 5. General Admission tickets are $15.00, children 12 and under are free. For more information about the September 5-7 ARCA/IRL weekend or to purchase tickets for the ARCA/IRL Practice Day, visit or call 815-727-RACE.

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