Getty Images

With Renault F1 deal confirmed, McLaren’s attention turns to Alonso

Leave a comment

McLaren executive director Zak Brown will turn his attention to Formula 1 contract talks with Fernando Alonso in the coming weeks after resolving the team’s engine saga for 2018.

McLaren announced on Friday it would be parting company with struggling power unit partner Honda at the end of the season, switching to a customer supply from Renault on a three-year deal.

McLaren’s F1 management has spent much of this year working to resolve its engine struggles and become more competitive, with the lack of success on-track being a regular source of frustration for lead driver Alonso.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Alonso said on Thursday in Singapore he was still weighing up a number of options for next year, but Brown is hopeful of extending the Spaniard’s contract into 2018.

“We’re going to turn our attention to Fernando now. We’ve been speaking a lot, he’s been waiting to see what technical solution we came up with,” Brown said.

“He won his two championships with Renault. He’s very happy with the racing team, we’re very happy with him.

“So I think in the not-too-distant future we should be able to get something done and that’ll be the last big piece of the puzzle.

“Then I’ve got to find us some sponsorship with our commercial team and get ready for next year.”

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
Leave a comment

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.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski