By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

Having an extra 50 pounds of weight added to his car won't discourage or slow down local race car driver Howard Ford.

With a more than 100 point lead in the North State Challenge Series and winning three races in a row after starting the season with a strong second place finish, Ford and his Rumiano Racing team have had a torrid start to the racing season.

But there have been a few bumps in the road along the way.

Ford has been told by race series officials he has to add an extra 50 pounds of weight to his vehicle to even things out because andquot;a lot of teams were getting discouraged,andquot; he said.

And, series officials performed an exhaustive technical andquot;tear downandquot; of the car following the last two races to make sure no illegal enhancements were made. The car passed both times.

Despite what has happened, Ford said he's focused on the positive start to the racing season and working with his crew to continue their hot start. Ford and his team have been busy working on the car so the added weight will not hinder the vehicle or the driver.

andquot;It's something new for us that we'll have to figure out,andquot; Ford said. andquot;I don't think it's going to hurt us. It will be tighter, but I still think we'll be right there. We got momentum on our side, but you never know.andquot;

Ford is excited about his upcoming race on Saturday at the Ukiah Speedway.

His crew has made changes to the car so it will run better with the increased weight, such as putting in a bigger calibrator. The weight change will andquot;be harderandquot; on the brakes and tires and Ford said he will have to change his driving style to accommodate the weight fluctuation in the car.

The NSCS season started in April with a second place finish for Ford. The next three races turned out to be first place finishes, including a win at the Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka on June 23.

Ford, who has been racing in the NSCS series for 12 years, won the championship in 1999.

Ford said the fast start has been a blessing. A few years ago, Ford and his team was in a slump and he said he wondered if he andquot;would win another raceandquot; and andquot;has amazed myself,andquot; with the way he has been racing this year.

andquot;This is more than I've ever dreamed of doing by putting together so many consecutive race wins,andquot; he said. andquot;It's pretty neat.andquot;

Ford is quick to thank his crew and sponsors for their support and guidance. He said in a sport like race car driving it's about the entire team, not just a driver, to make sure the team is a success.

Ford added he knows he and his team need to continue to perform well, because one bad race could drop them from the top of the standings as fast as they raced up to the top spot.