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Sergio Perez to stay with Force India for 2018 F1 season

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Force India has announced that Sergio Perez will remain part of its driver line-up for the 2018 Formula 1 season after signing a contract extension.

Perez joined Force India in 2014 and has led its charge ever since, taking four podium finishes during his time with the team.

Perez said earlier this week he was close to finalizing his racing plans for 2018, with Force India confirming on Sunday ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix that he would be staying on alongside Esteban Ocon, who joined on a multi-year deal for 2017.

“Staying with Sahara Force India was always my priority. It’s a team that has allowed me to show my talents as a driver and I feel very happy here,” Perez said.

“I’m proud of everything we have already achieved together and I think there is more to come. The team has done an amazing job this year to develop the car and establish our position as the fourth best team in Formula 1.

“In the end it was an easy decision to continue our journey together.”

Force India team owner Vijay Mallya added: “Sergio has played an important role in our success story over the last few years.

“Since joining us in 2014, he has matured to become one of the quickest and most consistent drivers on the grid. His track record speaks for itself as the most successful Force India driver ever with four podiums.

“Alongside Esteban, retaining Sergio gives us stability going into next season and one of the most exciting driver pairings in Formula 1.”

Formula 1 2018 – Driver Line-Ups

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen
Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen
Force India: Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon
Williams: TBA, TBA
McLaren: Stoffel Vandoorne, TBA
Toro Rosso: TBA, TBA
Haas: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen
Renault: Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz Jr.
Sauber: TBA, TBA

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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