IMSA: Titles on the line at Petit Le Mans

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Heading into the season finale of the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, there’s several titles to sort out at Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, the 10-hour enduro on Saturday at Road Atlanta.

In Prototype, Action Express Racing’s pair of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi holds a 22-point lead over Jordan and Ricky Taylor. It would take something short of a miracle, or the No. 5 AXR Corvette DP falling out before either driver hits their minimum drive time, for them to fail to take the title.

Prototype Challenge saw Colin Braun and Jon Bennett clinch in the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 at Circuit of the Americas. The pair seeks a sweep of all four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races, and will complete that with a win this weekend.

The GT Le Mans battle is fairly tight with Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer up seven points in their No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R over Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R. However, what was meant to be straightforward fell by the wayside as Bomarito and Wittmer have been split up.

Wittmer moves to the No. 91 with Dominik Farnbacher switching to the No. 93. The move is a goal to get either of its drivers the driver’s championship.

Dane Cameron holds a four-point lead in GT Daytona over Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil, the No. 94 Turner BMW Z4 GT3 ahead of the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America. Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler in the No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 are also in with a shout, at seven points back.

The NAEC titles are also to be decided this weekend, although that is secondary to the overall championship.

Here’s the standings, the points breakdown and the entry list for this weekend’s race.

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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