Alonso: No predictions on how Ferrari upgrades will fare in Canada

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Fernando Alonso and Ferrari have had their eye on the Canadian Grand Prix (Sun., 2 p.m. ET on NBC-TV) as an opportunity to make a leap in performance.

But as Circuit Gilles Villeneuve beckons, the two-time World Champion knows that they can’t just settle for pulling even with their rivals.

“We have been improving the car on the aero side, while in the simulator, we have done a lot of work on the set-up with the aim of arriving in Canada with a better car,” he said to the team website recently.

“We can’t make any predictions because our improvement has to be seen in relation to what our competitors come up with. We need to match them and then find a plus.”

Nonetheless, the Spaniard is confident that everyone’s efforts in Maranello will pay off. He spent a few days inside the Ferrari factory with his crew-mates after his fourth-place finish in Monaco and noted a “good atmosphere.”

“Everyone is very motivated and hungry for good results,” Alonso said. “We are realistic and well aware of where we are at the moment, but from now on, we want to be in a position to get better results and enjoy our race weekends a bit more and everyone is working in one direction to improve the car.”

Alonso and Ferrari sit third in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship respectively, but with Mercedes covering them on both fronts (Red Bull is also ahead of Ferrari for second in the Constructors by 21 points), there is much work to be done.

They hope that progress will begin this weekend at CGV, a track where Alonso won in 2006 and a track that, in his mind, rewards precision.

“It has only six or seven corners, but each one has something special,” he said. “They have an element of danger and getting them right brings you a lot of lap time. There is definitely no room for error, as all the walls are very very close.”

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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