IndyCar: ‘No-one can strip me of this chance’ says Howard

By Andy & LJH

CalendarThursday, May 20th, 2010

 
 

With the Indianapolis 500 looming, Florida-based Essex racer Jay Howard has spoken about how his chance to run in the 2008 race was snatched away from him at the last moment.

Jay Howard

Jay Howard

Howard is driving this year for Sarah Fisher Racing after a fortuitous combination of circumstances saw a fairy-godfather sponsor step in to fund a second chassis for the team, allowing owner/driver Fisher to hire him for a part-time schedule that includes Indy.

It’s a stark contrast with two years ago, when he was the victim of another owner/driver’s less successful attempts to expand.

Supposedly in for a full season at Canadian businessman Marty Roth’s now-defunct vanity team, he was replaced by John Andretti – first for the 2008 Indianapolis 500 and then, as things transpired, pretty much for the rest of the season save a brief return at Watkins Glen.

But he said this had only increased his motivation to succeed.

“After my buddy Mr. Roth pulled me out of the car in 2008 I was at PF Chang’s, and I got a fortune cookie that said ‘Good things come to those who are patient’. I thought, ‘OK…’

“I stuck the fortune to the top of my computer screen and every day that I would get pissed I could look at that and think, ‘Keep digging, keep hammering away.’

“I just felt that I had come so far in my career and had never really had a sponsor except on a race-to-race basis, so I had to work harder.

At Motegi for Roth Racing, before it all went wrong

At Motegi for Roth Racing, before it all went wrong

“Marty had promised me so much and delivered almost zero. I realised that racing started to become more business than what it used to be. That’s fine. You just need to realise what it is and work hard.”

While the whole experience with Roth and the 2008 race has made him wiser, it hasn’t knocked his confidence: “It has taught me a little, but I’m still the same person I was a couple of years ago.”

This year, with Sarah Fisher Racing and sponsors Service Central, the hard work looks like paying off: “I can’t say enough good things about them.”

After a day back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, taking a refresher course in driving the 2.5-mile oval, he said: “I’ve got some great sponsors on board, and there is no way someone is going to strip me of this chance. I’m excited for the month. I feel relaxed, and I feel good.

“It felt good this afternoon. I kept telling them I wanted to go faster, but they said, ‘Take it easy, we don’t want to upset anyone’.

Awaiting the chance to go out on track at Indy

Awaiting the chance to go out on track at Indy

“It’s a shame about the rain, but it was good to get some laps in. The car feels good, and I’m eager to put the pedal all the way down. I’d like to thank Service Central for giving me this opportunity to be here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Here’s to hoping for dry weather.”

Fisher’s decision to choose Howard came at least in part because she’d seen him at work when he was the fall guy at Roth, which had its base near hers in Indianapolis. And for the most part, despite an incident at the recent Kansas race where he wrecked his car by drifting into the wall when overtaking his boss, it’s been a successful partnership.

He said: “Having Sarah as a team owner is great. I don’t need to tell anyone what Sarah is about – she is a great person, and everyone loves her.

“I think that being able to relate to her, especially while she is driving, is an advantage to me. It’s great because we go out in very similar cars. Even today, we talked about a bump in turn two which hadn’t been there before, but it is now. We were talking about that before we even went out.

“It’s just nice to have that relationship where we can really relate to each other. There’s some team owners out there that can’t do that. I think having Sarah as a team owner is a good thing.”

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