Howie Brode’s 2013 championship in the NASCAR Modified ranks at Riverhead Raceway (NY) came 15 years after his first championship. With just three races remaining in the 2014 season, Brode is inching closer to winning back-to-back championships.
Winning last year’s championship was big for Brode, of East Islip, N.Y. He said it was just as gratifying as the first one, but he was able to celebrate this one a little bit differently.
“This one was a little better because I have my kids,” Brode told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I didn’t have my kids back then to see it.”
Brode is working hard to make sure that his black and silver Modified with a white No. 96 on the side gets to be put on t-shirts along with the word “Champion” just like last year. After a strong start to the season, he has been struggling the last few weeks.
“I can’t put my finger on it,” he said. “If I could put my finger on it I’d fix it right away. I think we’ve got a good car.”
To make things tougher for Brode he has Tom Rogers Jr. hot on his heels, just 19 points back. Rogers has seven wins this season to Brode’s three, and many of Rogers’ wins have come in just the past few weeks.
“We just need to get back on our marks here,” said Brode. “We fell off a little bit and some other people picked up.”
The remaining three races are perfect for Brode’s driving style. Two of the three races are extra distance races, and that works perfect for Brode who describes his style as “methodical.”
Although he has a methodical approach to long distance races, Brode will have to be aggressive if he wants to hold off the hard-charging Rogers like he did this past Saturday night. He spent much of Saturday’s 35-lap feature with Rogers’ No. 9 right on his back bumper, but he was able to hold him off.
“It’s 35 laps so you’ve gotta go when the green flag goes.”
It’s possible that this may be Brode’s last chance at a championship. The 50-year-old driver doesn’t know how long he’s going to continue climbing through the window to race. He said he’s going to keep doing it as long as he’s competitive.
“I still enjoy it,” he said. “I still do well. I’m going to keep on going as long as that keeps continuing.”
Even if it doesn’t, Brode will still enjoy racing as he’s now gotten his son, Matthew, started in go-karts.
“He does pretty well so we’ll see where that goes.”
For now Brode is going to keep chasing checkered flags and championships at Riverhead. He knows that his next win may be his last, and he said that drives him even more.
“They’re getting harder to come by at the end of this year,” he said. “I’m going to keep trying to get that checkered flag, believe me.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, NJ, CT) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Featured Photo Credit: Ghostrider Photo