High banks and high speeds part of Texas’ challenge (VIDEO)

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There’s an added sense of excitement that goes with racing under the lights. Throw in 24 degrees of high banks and speeds well over 200 miles per hour, and you’ve got IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway, a combination that produces some of the most electrifying – and sometimes terrifying – action you’ll see anywhere.

And more often than not, the endings pay off. In 24 previous IZOD IndyCar Series events at Texas, 16 of them finished with a margin of victory of less than one second; eight of them have been decided by less than one-tenth of a second. The Indianapolis 500 may be their crown jewel, but one could argue that the wheel-to-wheel action and close finishes at TMS has been sort of a calling card for the series over the years.

The Firestone 550 at Texas (Sat., 8:30 p.m. ET, check local listings) poses a tough challenge that the drivers must endure. Navigating those high banks at such high speeds subjects them to intense G-forces. In addition, lower downforce levels on the cars’ aerodynamic packages at Texas means that they’ll have a harder time handling their machines around the entire 1.5-mile oval.

A new tire compound and left-side construction from Firestone should help in terms of added grip, but that won’t decrease the level of difficulty. Expect to see more than a few white-knuckle moments in this one.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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