Photo courtesy of IMSA

Corvette Racing looks for ninth Le Mans crown in its 20th anniversary

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Few recent entities have become more synonymous with sports car racing, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, than Corvette Racing has in the 21st century.

With over 100 total wins, 12 manufacturer and team championships, 11 drivers’ championships, and eight Le Mans wins, the Corvette marque has quickly become one of the most storied and accomplished ones in the history of sports car racing.

The 2018 season marks the team’s 20th anniversary, and everyone is motivated to commemorate the landmark occasion with their ninth Le Mans crown.

“I said the first time I won there in ’11 that it was like nothing I’d ever won before, and I don’t think that I truly appreciated what that meant until I was fortunate to win it again in ’15. Because then I felt like I remembered everything that happened,” said two-time Le Mans class winner Tommy Milner, who drives the No. 64 C7.R with Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler.

Milner added, “I felt like the first time I won there, you’re just in a total blur. You walk out on the podium, everything happens, you’re done and the next thing you know is you wake up the next morning. Then, it kind of hits you a little bit. So, winning the second time allowed me to sort of enjoy and appreciate what happens and everything that goes along with the win. It’s incredible.”

The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has seen only one victory for Corvette – at Long Beach with Gavin and Milner – but Gavin is confident that the IMSA effort, even if it hasn’t yielded as many victories as they’d like, has them well-prepared for this year’s Le Mans.

“Racing in IMSA has prepared us really well for going to Le Mans. The level of competition in North America is exceptionally high, and I’m confident that any of the teams from IMSA would be able to compete at the front with any of the (FIA World Endurance Championship) teams; there’s no real difference in the level of racing in WEC versus our GT Le Mans class. It’s the case at Le Mans that there are more cars than ever before in our GTE Pro category,” Gavin asserted.

The No. 63 Corvette, with Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, and Mike Rockenfeller, qualified ninth in the GTE-Pro class, while the No. 64 of Gavin, Milner, and Fessler starts 14th.

While the team desired stronger qualifying results, Garcia thinks a slew of issues out of their control – stoppages from on-track incidents in the second qualifying session and a rain shower in the third – are what ultimately prevented them from qualifying better, and he asserted that they will be contenders come race time.

“We continued to work according to the plan we worked with since yesterday,” said Garcia after qualifying. “It’s a shame, though, that we had so many yellows and slow zones, as well as two red flags in the second qualifying session. Each time it stopped our rhythm.

“We got extra time for the third qualifying session, but that was then cut short by the rain. We made some progress with the car and gathered loads of data. With all we collected, we are confident we can make the right decision for Saturday, so I’m kind of happy with where we are.”

Full qualifying results for the entire Le Mans field can be found here. The race begins at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.





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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