By Bill Choy

Triplicate Sports Editor

Local race car driver Howard Ford overcame a number of obstacles this past weekend to continue his torrid pace in North State Challenge Series action.

At the Shasta Speedway Park in Anderson on Saturday, his car received body damage when it flipped over. Uninjured, and with the car not suffering any serious damage, he went back into the race - last in the 20-car field - and was able to maneuver his way to an impressive first place finish.

After the race, officials performed an exhaustive technical andquot;tear downandquot; to make sure the car had nothing illegal done to it. Around 100 spectators, by Ford's estimation, watched on, curious to see if the car passed the inspection.

Ford's car passed with flying colors, although it will take at least several days to completely put the car back, he said on Tuesday.

Ford and his Rumiano Racing crew team are currently in first in the NSCS points race. The team won its last race of the NSCS season last year, placed second in the first race of the season this year, came in first at a race last month, and first on Saturday.

Ford said he was glad to show without any doubt, his team has just had a good run, and are running races clean.

Since doing so well in so many consecutive races is unusual, Ford said there were some people who had suspicions about the race car.

He was pleased the inspection showed the car had nothing illegal done to it, like the engine being larger than it should.

andquot;I have never seen this much of a thorough tear down (of a car) before,andquot; Ford said. andquot;I'm glad it puts all the speculation to rest.andquot;

The successful start to the season boils down to a number of factors, from luck, good driving, to a great crew who knows what there doing, he said.

Besides putting the car back together, Ford and his crew also are working on fixing damage done in Saturday's race when Ford's car flipped over and went airborne. Things to be fixed include the right front fender and the right door.

The incident happened when Ford's car rubbed wheels with another vehicle, causing it to flip over.

andquot;I just saw the sky and the grandstands,andquot; Ford recalled, adding he was proud of how quickly and efficiently his crew was able to get him back on the track. andquot;They did a good job,andquot; he said.

Being able to win the race despite the setbacks and maintain his points lead meant a lot to Ford.

andquot;It was really cool,andquot; he said.

andquot;I feel really lucky that we still had a nice leadandquot; in the standings. Ford added that he realizes it can still take one bad race and a poor showing to quickly lose the lead.

Ford and his team next race on June 23 at Redwood Acres Speedway in Eureka.

Ford is excited to be able to race again and hopes to have a good performance on the track.

andquot;If we do well it will show that we're still on the top of our game and that we're not slowing down,andquot; he said.