Lap One Contact Greatly Affects Duno’s Iowa Debut
NEWTON, Iowa (July 17, 2011) – Milka Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team rolled into Iowa Speedway with high hopes for a strong finish in their return to ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competition, but when contact from the No. 55 forced Duno to spin in turn three on just the first lap of the Prairie Meadows 200 those hopes were quickly dashed. While Duno was able to continue with her wrecked race car, the damage caused the brakes to go out on her CITGO SUPERGARD Toyota on lap 163 of 200 relegating her to a 23rd-place finish.
The first lap contact and the damage it caused would send Duno from her starting position of 15th to a back of the pack 39th. For the remainder of Duno’s race she battled back with a damaged car that caused brake problems on the No. 63 machine to as high as 19th for a total gain of 20 positions.
“I am very happy with how hard the team worked and how well we qualified,” said Duno. “This was a new car and we did not have the opportunity to test, and we improved so much from the first practice. The car was very stable and very good. I am disappointed that the No. 55 made that mistake and spun us on the first lap. That ruined a promising day for us. You have to have a little more patience; it was the first lap and it ruined the day for two cars. I am very happy with how well the team worked and am really excited to have Dave Leiner on board. The communication between us and the entire team was great, and I can’t wait to get to Indianapolis.”
The weekend started off promising for Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team. Welcoming new Crew Chief Dave Leiner Jr. to the team, Duno and Leiner got off to a fast start making a great connection right off the bat. In Friday afternoon’s two practice sessions Duno posted the 22nd and 23rd fastest times but felt confident going into Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session. As the 39th and final car to take her chance around Iowa Speedway, Duno’s lap of 24.352 seconds (129.353 mph) put her No. 63 Machine 15th on the speed charts lining her up on the inside of row 8 for the start of the Prairie Meadows 200.
Under sweltering conditions with the temperature reaching 100 degrees, it didn’t take long for action to get started when the green flag dropped to signal the start of the Prairie Meadows 200. On just the first lap of the race, going into turn three Duno was racing side by side with the No. 25 when the No. 55 looked to make it three wide, forcing her way under Duno and making contact with her left rear. The contact caused Duno to start to get sideways but she was doing a great job of keeping in control of the car when the No. 55 hit her again, this time in the left front fender, causing severe damage that would affect the remainder of the race for the Sheltra Motorsports team. The incident, also collecting the No. 25, brought out the first caution of the race.
With heavy damage to her left front fender, Crew Chief Dave Leiner Jr. called Duno to pit road for repairs. The damaged fender broke the brake fans which would eventually bring Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports teams’ day to an early end.
Taking the lap six restart in the 37th, position plagued three laps down, Duno got to work trying to salvage the day. By the time the second yellow of the race came out on lap 49, Duno had climbed into the 27th position. During the caution period the Sheltra Motorsports team got busy making three pit stops to make repairs to their No. 63 machine.
When the field went back to racing on lap 59, Duno had a makeshift left front fender, but the brake fans were not able to be fixed. Duno took the restart from the 26th position and running very competitive lap times, she climbed into 23rd by lap 72. Lap 85 is when Duno’s day made another turn for the worse as she radioed to her Sheltra Motorsports team that she was losing the brakes in her No. 63 Toyota.
Another caution on lap 92 gave the CITGO SUPERGARD team the opportunity to bring Duno back down pit road to take a look at the brakes, but with no way to fix them the team added fuel and sent Duno back on the track.
Fighting the brake problem through the next several laps, Duno was able to climb into the top-20 by lap 150 but when the yellow flag came out on lap 159 Duno’s brakes were completely gone forcing her to park her No. 63 Toyota early relegating her to a 23rd-place finish.
“Milka did a phenomenal job today,” said Leiner. “She had to battle a brake problem for much of the race and continued to run competitive lap times. Milka gave us great feedback all weekend long and we were really able to improve the car for her. I am very impressed with how well she communicates and what a great feel for the car she has. We made large strides this weekend and I am looking forward to a very successful future for Milka and our Sheltra Motorsports team. I am excited to get back at it at Lucas Oil Raceway.”
The ARCA Racing Series will take a week off before heading to Lucas Oil Raceway for the Ansell Protective Gloves 200 on Thursday night, July 28th. SPEED will have live coverage of all 200 laps of short track racing action beginning at 7:00 p.m. EST.
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