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Sainz, Palmer, Vandoorne all take best F1 finishes in Singapore GP

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Carlos Sainz Jr., Jolyon Palmer and Stoffel Vandoorne all capitalized on chaos at the front to claim their best Formula 1 finishes in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.

A start-line crash between Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen combined with a wet first half of the race presented a golden opportunity to the midfield runners in Singapore, with Sainz coming out on top in fourth place.

Trailing only Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas, Sainz capped off a memorable weekend in Singapore that had already seen him be confirmed as a Renault driver for 2018 by charging to fourth place at the checkered flag.

The result saw Sainz better his previous best finish of sixth in F1, something he managed on three occasions (USA 2016, Brazil 2016, Monaco 2017).

“Wow, what a day, what a result! I’d say this is probably my best day in Formula 1 up until now,” Sainz said.

“After a weekend with so much media attention, to put together a perfect weekend and finish the race in P4 is just amazing. To start the race on intermediate tires, then switch to the supersoft – where I struggled a bit during the first laps – and then make it to the end without losing positions is just the perfect way to celebrate a difficult weekend. It’s definitely one I will always remember.

“I had my flight booked to go back home tonight, but I’m definitely canceling this – we need to celebrate this excellent result altogether, this team have also done an amazing job this weekend.”

The man Sainz will replace at Renault next year, Jolyon Palmer, will also be in a celebratory mood after he dodged the minefield ahead to finish sixth, marking his first points since Malaysia last year.

“I’m so happy, it’s been a long time coming but today everything fell into place,” Palmer said.

“It was a tricky race with the drama at the start and the heavy rain but the circumstances put us in a good place to score some points.

“We had a good strategy, good pit stops and the car was good in the wet conditions. The next race should be even better.”

Palmer spent the closing stages fending off McLaren driver Vandoorne, who bettered his previous best effort of P10 to cross the line seventh.

“To race under the rain at the beginning was definitely not easy, so my main focus was just to stay out of trouble, which we managed to do. From that point on, I just managed my own race,” Vandoorne said.

“I think seventh place was really the best it was going to get for me today. Sixth was perhaps on the cards at one point, but it didn’t work out at my second pit-stop.

“After that, I just focused on getting everything I could from the car and maximizing the performance. Getting a couple of points means we finish our weekend on a high.”

All three drivers were the sole points-scorers for their teams, with Daniil Kvyat, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso retiring from the 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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