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Pagenaud tops IndyCar practice 3 in Sonoma

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Team Penske’s strong form was again on display in Practice 3 for Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), this time with Simon Pagenaud taking a turn at the top of the time charts.

Pagenaud’s best lap of 1:16.0329 bettered Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s lap of 1:16.1454 by just over one tenth of a second. Penske’s remaining trio of Will Power (third), Josef Newgarden (fourth), and Helio Castroneves (fifth) made it four Penske cars in the top five.

Practice 3 ran without stoppages, though a pair of drivers did have quick spins during the 45-minute session. Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones looped his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda in Turn 9, but quickly regrouped and continued on.

Near the end of the session, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe spun in Turn 2 and briefly stalled, but managed to get the car refired and completed the practice. Jones and Hinchcliffe ended up 15th and 16th respectively.

Times are below. Qualifying begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

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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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