Coyne confirms Conway for Toronto, Houston, and Mann for Fontana

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The biggest star of the Detroit doubleheader weekend will resume his part-time assault on the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend in Toronto.

Mike Conway, who had been all but officially confirmed after his win and third-place finish in Detroit, will return to Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda for the Toronto and Houston doubleheader weekends.

Conway finished third in Toronto last year, his only podium finish for A.J. Foyt Racing, and looks to go two spots better in either – or perhaps both – races of the Honda Indy.

“Hopefully we will pick up from where we left off in Detroit,” Conway said in a release. “Toronto is one of my favorite circuits so there is no reason why we can’t do well there. Houston will be new to a lot of people, however Dale Coyne and my teammate Justin (Wilson) raced there in Champ Car so I am hoping to get some good feedback from them!  They should both be really good weekends and I want to thank Dale for giving me another chance to be a part of it.”

Conway will be unable to race at Baltimore on Sept. 1 per his FIA World Endurance Championship commitments. Since Detroit, Pippa Mann (Texas and Pocono) and Ana Beatriz (Milwaukee and Iowa) have raced Coyne’s second car.

Mann was confirmed Monday to race the No. 18 Cyclops Gear Honda at Fontana. She finished a career-best 15th on Sunday in Pocono.

“Being a part of Dale Coyne Racing this year, and bringing Cyclops Gear to IndyCar has been such an amazing opportunity, and a great experience,” she said in a release. “I’ve had fun at every track I’ve had the opportunity to drive at, and I was pleased to bring home a top 15 for the team this time out in Pocono, and help them keep the No. 18 car up in the Leaders Circle points for 2014.”

Other candidates the rest of the year to fill the remaining races in the No. 18 car are James Davison and Stefan Wilson, who have each tested for Coyne this year but have not yet made their IndyCar race debuts.

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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