Duno Survives Wreck-Marred Race at Pocono Raceway
LONG POND, Penn. (August 9, 2011) – For any driver, making their first start at Pocono Raceway is a tough task but add to that battling a bent rear suspension throughout the race, and it makes that task nearly impossible. Milka Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team were ready for a solid finish in the rain-delayed Pennsylvania ARCA 125 at Pocono Raceway, but after running over debris from a turn one accident on lap two, Duno and team were forced to fight a bent rear suspension that would hamper the No. 63 CITGO SUPERGARD Toyota for the remainder of the race. Duno fought her way to a 25th-place finish in Sunday’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event at the “Tricky Triangle.”
“I was very excited about our first race at Pocono,” said Duno. “For it being my first time at the track we were all working really well together and improved a great deal throughout practice. We then improved in qualifying and felt that we had a chance for a good result here - a feeling that was reinforced by our ability to gain five positions on the very first lap. But again we were bitten by bad luck when debris from an accident damaged the rear suspension. From that point on I had my hands full just trying to keep the car straight on the straights and to make it through the corners. It was very challenging – but we never gave up.”
From the first time the ARCA Racing Series cars hit the track on Friday afternoon for practice, Duno and her team had a fight on their hands. With only a short 90 minute practice session, Duno and team had a tall task ahead of them. Battling a problem with the master cylinder in the brakes Duno was able to post the 26th-fastest time of the session with a lap time of 58.805 seconds (153.048 mph). With the brakes fixed Duno went out for qualifying 42nd of the 46 cars attempting to make the 41-car field. Duno motored her car around the 2.5-mile track in a time of 57.451 seconds (156.655 mph), nearly 1.4 seconds faster than her best practice time. The time was good enough to line up the No. 63 Toyota 25th for the start of the 125-mile race.
With rain cancelling all on-track activity for the ARCA Racing Series cars Saturday afternoon, Duno and her Sheltra Motorsports team rolled into Pocono Raceway early Sunday morning ready to get to racing. Taking the green flag from the 25th position, Duno knew she had a great car when she picked up five positions in just one lap of green-flag racing, but a big wreck in turn one on lap two brought about some bad luck. With debris scattered across the track, Duno had to weave her way through traffic to miss the wreck, but when she did she ran over debris that caused a bent rear suspension on the No. 63 machine. That bent suspension would plague Duno for the remainder of the event.
The lap two wreck made for a long caution and with several cars coming down pit road, Duno moved up to 15th for the lap 13 restart but it didn’t take long for her to realize there was something wrong with her CITGO SUPERGARD machine as she radioed to her Sheltra Motorsports crew right away that there was something wrong with the car.
The problem forced Duno down pit road under green flag conditions on lap 17 for four tires and fuel, and the Sheltra Motorsports team found a left rear tire going flat. Unfortunately that was not the problem with the car, as Duno said there were no improvements to the handling of the car after the pit stop.
Battling the handling of the car for the remainder of the race, Duno stayed out of trouble and went on to finish 25th. Upon the completion of the race the Sheltra Motorsports crew found a large piece of debris wedged underneath the car that had bent the rear suspension, causing the handling problems on the No. 63 Toyota.
"Pocono Raceway is a tough track and Milka did a nice job adjusting to the track," said Crew Chief Dave Leiner Jr. "I think we were going to have a great race but were just bitten by bad luck very early on. We ran over some debris from that lap two wreck and it bent the right rear suspension. The guys on the Sheltra Motorsports team worked hard and did a great job. We need to get a little luck on our side and we will get the finish we deserve."
The Sheltra Motorsports team will have a couple weeks off before returning to ARCA Racing Series competition on Friday, August 26th for the Herr’s Live Life with Flavor 200 at Madison International Speedway (Wis.). The green flag will drop for 200 laps of short track action at 8:30 p.m. EST.