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WATCH LIVE: IndyCar at Texas (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

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Coverage of the ninth round of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 from Texas Motor Speedway, takes place today starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com (stream link here). The coverage comes after an encore presentation of Texas qualifying, which begins at 7 p.m. ET.

Kevin Lee will be in the booth with Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller will be in pit lane.

Coverage will run from 7 to 10 p.m. CT and local time, so 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Pre-race coverage runs from 8 to 8:30 p.m. ET, race coverage from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET and post-race coverage from 10:30 to 11 p.m. ET.

This then leads into the premiere of the “Yellow, Yellow, Yellow” documentary, highlighting the behind-the-scenes work of INDYCAR’s Holmatro Safety Team.

It’s a Honda-heavy front of the grid with Charlie Kimball leading the field away from his first career pole, with Hondas in the top eight positions as they look for their sixth win this season.

Incidentally, despite its qualifying pace, Ganassi doesn’t have any of the previous five – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has two while Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have one apiece.

Beyond Kimball’s pole, some of the other story lines to watch include these:

  • None of the top seven drivers on the grid have won a race this year, and three of them (Tristan Vautier, Max Chilton, Mikhail Aleshin) haven’t won yet in IndyCar. Do any of them break through to become an eighth winner this season?
  • Do the Team Penske and Chevrolet runners have anything for the leaders?
  • How much will tires (new right sides) fall off on the newly repaved surface?
  • Will the race be a pack race or more strung out and processional?

The starting lineup is below.

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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