Duno Survives Wreck-Marred Race at Lucas Oil Raceway with a Top-20 Finish
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 28, 2011) - Milka Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team survived the Ansell Protective Gloves 200 to score a 19th-place finish in Thursday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards racing action at Lucas Oil Raceway - but the finish does not tell the full story of Duno’s night. With a top-15 finish in sight, blatant contact from Brett Hudson’s No. 94 on lap 149 left Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team with a beaten and battered race car to survive the final 51 laps of the race.
“Lucas Oil Raceway is a tough track; it is more difficult than it looks,” said Duno. “We were constantly battling the handling of the car in the corners, but the team continually made the car better and better every time we went out on the track. After the wreck with the 94 the car was very difficult to drive in the corners. That damage really hurt our car and made the car very difficult to turn. I am very encouraged with how we ran up to that point. Dave is a great crew chief and I am really learning a lot from him. We have really, really good communication. I am excited for the remainder of this season.”
The pressure was on for Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team as 46 cars, including a handful of NASCAR regulars, rolled into Lucas Oil Raceway’s 0.686-mile oval looking to qualify into the 35-car field. With only a short 90-minute practice session, Duno had little time to get acquainted to Lucas Oil Raceway’s short track. Running the most laps of any driver, 73, Duno posted the 28th fastest time in practice. With the pressure building in qualifying, Duno ran a lap time of 23.550 seconds (104.886 mph) putting her 28th on the speed charts and solidly in the field.
The green flag dropped on the stars of the ARCA Racing Series shortly after 7:00 p.m. EST and Duno wasted no time jumping from her 28th starting position to 24th by the second lap. Maintaining her position in the top-25, Duno radioed to crew chief, Dave Leiner Jr, that her car was too tight from the center off on lap 12.
When the first caution came out on lap 35 Leiner called Duno to pit road to work on the handling of her tight racecar, making a track bar adjustment and adding fuel to the CITGO SUPERGARD Dodge. Duno returned to the track in the 27th position for the lap 40 restart.
Another caution on lap 60 gave the Sheltra Motorsports team the opportunity to make more adjustments to their No. 63 machine. Changing four tires and making an air pressure adjustment, a quick pit stop put Duno back on track for the restart on lap 64 in the 25th position.
With a caution-marred middle section of the race, Duno maintained her position in the top-25 through the next 30 laps. On lap 98, Duno was locked in a tight battle with Brett Hudson’s No. 94 when they made contact while coming off turn 4 causing the 94 to spin. With very little damage, Duno was able to continue with no problems.
Another yellow on lap 130 brought Duno back to pit road for what was supposed to be her last pit stop of the night. With a quick four tire pit stop, the Sheltra Motorsports team returned Duno back to the track in 23rd ready for the lap 136 restart.
It didn’t take long for the action to get heat up again as a three car wreck going into turn one caused a red flag on lap 136. After several minutes of clean up the field went back to racing on lap 141. Climbing to 19th, Duno was again running fast lap times and looking to pick her way through the field when on lap 147 Hudson’s No. 94, with bad intentions, made blatant contact with Duno’s left rear on the exit of turn four. The contact caused Duno to spin when Hudson again hit Duno, this time in the left front causing severe fender damage and a flat tire. While ARCA warned Hudson for rough driving, Duno and team were left with a beaten and bruised race car.
Making two pit stops to help repair the damage during the caution, Duno was left to fight a damaged and very ill handling race car for the final 50 laps of the race before salvaging a 19th-place finish.
“I continue to be very impressed with Milka,” said Leiner. “Her communication and feedback on the car is great and we continue to improve every time we are on the track. We had a great run going today. I am proud of our Sheltra Motorsports team and look forward to Pocono next weekend.”
The ARCA Racing Series will head to the mountains of Pocono Pennsylvania to tackle the “trick triangle” next weekend for the Pennsylvania ARCA 125 on Saturday, August 6. SPEED will have live coverage of all 125 miles of racing action at 3:00 p.m. EST.