INDIANAPOLIS – Holly Shelton is still riding a wave of momentum, one week after resetting her own record for the highest feature finish in history for a female national midget driver on dirt.
Shelton scored a runner-up at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo., on July 13 with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League, besting her previous highest finish of third at Lawrenceburg Speedway last summer with the USAC P1 Insurance National Midget Series.
The California resident barnstormed through the field on the bottom of the race track, finishing just behind Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Tucker Klaasmeyer and following up that effort with another podium finish on the second night of the doubleheader weekend.
Shelton became the first female to ever score back-to-back national midget podiums on the dirt. Notably, the only other female driver to finish second in a national midget feature was Sarah McCune, who did so on pavement at the half-mile Winchester Speedway in 1999.
“It’s one of those things that you don’t even think about or realize at first,” Shelton told SPEED SPORT of continuing to make history. “The race at Valley was one where I had a poor heat race, so I had to transfer in through the B-main … won that and then started at the back of the feature.
“The track was pretty racy; it was treacherous up top, but you could make the bottom groove work if you were patient,” she noted. “I started 17th and just got moving down low. I didn’t even realize how far up (in the field) I’d gotten until I got behind my teammates, Tucker (Klaasmeyer) and Ryan (Robinson). I ran them down, and they were running the middle while I was making time against them on the bottom.
“A red flag came out late, though, and one of our crew guys told them I was running the bottom and getting close to passing them, so they moved down and I got by Ryan, but couldn’t quite get to Tucker. I was coming, though. It was definitely one of the best races I’ve had.”
Shelton and her team are beginning to find their stride, despite the fact that she has had to miss six races this season due to injury. She sat out three races while recovering from shoulder surgery and then missed an additional three races for a concussion sustained in a racing incident.
The momentary slowdowns have not shaken her confidence, however.
“I definitely feel like we’re getting close to peaking at the right time and really have found a lot of speed lately,” Shelton said. “Obviously, racing for Keith (Kunz) and Pete (Willoughby) … they have the most knowledge, I feel like, out of anyone in the pit area and we’re applying that and making a ton of progress.
“I’m actually running a newer car now; Spencer Bayston ran it last year and won a ton of races in it, so I’ve got that to live up to … but it’s been really good since the switch,” added Shelton. “I feel like we’re faster than ever and it’s definitely building up my confidence a lot. I think we can win. I’m just itching to get back on the track.”