cars 3 rolls back into theaters as Lightning Mcqueen (Owen Wilson) races to realize the legacy of becoming one of the biggest names in racing sport. This time though, he shares the spotlight with a young female character, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) as Pixar continues to pursue the company's trend of promoting lead characters from diverse backgrounds.

'Cars 3' concludes Lightning McQueen’s racing journey

Pixar’s “Cars 3” follows the journey of Lightning McQueen as he struggles to maintain his spot in the roster of race track champions. But despite his huge heart and wide experience, the aged racer finds himself in a tough position.

Given his age, he desperately tries to prove himself opposite a generation of younger and technologically superior racers. Hearts break as the film's climactic race finishes with his defeat.

Amidst this setback, “Cars 3” leaves the right sense of sentiment as Lightning McQueen finds happiness in the most unexpected place. He moves forward to a new role, taking the spot of his own late mentor, Doc Hudson and giving fans the closure they deserve.

Cruz Ramirez is the new Lightning McQueen

“Cars 3” concludes with Lightning McQueen’s promising new role. The aged racer assumes an unexpected role as coach and crew chief of Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), a female racer.

Until the final half of “Cars 3,” the franchise, along with its two spin-off films, "Planes", has always been led by male protagonists.

While each film featured some female characters such as Lightning McQueen’s girlfriend Sally (Bonnie Hunt), the core relationships of the franchise were male-driven.

The first two films focused on Lightning McQueen’s relationships with men - his mentor Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) and his handler Finn “McMissile” (Michael Caine).

“Cars 3” delivers a breath of fresh air as Cruz Ramirez learns of the opportunity to live her dreams of becoming a racer. Under McQueen’s guidance, the female racer speeds to victory in the film’s finale.

The introduction of Cruz Ramirez, a female character, as a lead in “Cars 3” represents another step for Pixar in its trend of promoting diversity among its characters and stories.

Meanwhile, film director and Cars veteran Brian Fee, as well as Pixar/Disney animation chief creative officer John Lasseter, say they are still uncertain as to where the franchise stands after “Cars 3”. But between a fourth film, a short follow-up or any other medium, they are certain that the race is far from over.