PHOENIX PRE-RACE REPORT
April 9, 2004 Phoenix, AZ - Howard-Boss Motorsports arrived at Phoenix International Raceway for the Food City 250 on Saturday, April 10, 2004, with the #2 CITGO-branded Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype pre-set for what they believed would be the best set-up for the 2-hour and 45-minute timed sprint race - the 3rd race of the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series Championship season. At Phoenix teammates Milka Duno and Andy Wallace will try their utmost to repeat their win at their last race - the Grand Prix of Miami.
After Practice #1 on Thursday morning, it was quickly apparent that their car set-up was off as their times were not where they wanted them to be. Andy drove the car for the entire session and delivered a best lap time of 1:00.863 which placed the car 10th fastest overall. However, using the best technology available, as Howard-Boss Motorsports certainly does, and information recorded from previous visits to a particular track, pre-setting the car is still an educated guess. What sets competitive teams apart is their ability to adjust accordingly.In Practice #2 on Thursday afternoon, the hard-working teams had made progress - but were still off the desired mark. The session was held at night, as the race on Saturday extends into darkness, and Andy drove the lions-share of the session, with Milka completing fewer than ten laps. Their best lap time was 1:00.242 which improved on their time from the previous session, placing them 11th overall. Back to work they went.
Friday brought the 3rd Practice session as well as the Qualifying session. Andy opened with four very quick laps that generated a best lap time of 00:58.420 and moved them up to 4th overall. Milka completed the entire rest of the session to prepare for her duties as qualifier for the race. The adjustments made by the team were paying off.
Milka was selected to qualify the car for the 2nd consecutive time. At the Grand Prix of Miami, in her first Rolex qualifying effort, Milka placed the car 15th on the grid. In the qualifying session here at Phoenix, Milka escalated her qualifying performance by 7 positions and placed the car in the 8th position on the grid.
"Phoenix is a very tough track and I had limited time in the car before the qualifying session," said Milka. "We knew after the first practice session that we had a lot of work to do to get the car dialed in - which we did. I felt challenged by the need to deliver a good grid position after having only a very short time in the car. Andy and I walked the track before the session and we spent a lot of time going over the telemetry - all of which helped tremendously. Andy is very good at describing to the engineers and mechanics what changes need to be made and the work we did together helped greatly toward the result. The support that CITGO has provided and the hard work of the team has given me the opportunity to try and better my performance with each and every session. I was able to do that today and my goal is to continue to all season."
"There's really nothing special to say - we just did our job," said Andy. "We arrived here guessed on our set-up - but we guessed wrong. Then from the guess wrong we changed a few things then changed a few things more then changed a few things more and now we're very happy with the car. That's just a normal thing. You look at a track and you figure a set-up and you've probably got a 50-50 chance of getting it right. So, we got it wrong and weren't very fast. But now, in the qualifying session, we went very, very fast and we're really very happy."
The race at Phoenix held under the lights and scheduled to begin at 6:00p.m. MT will be a 250-mile event. The track, located in Arizona's "Valley of the Sun" is 1.51 miles in length and features 11 turns in its road racing configuration. The race will be broadcast LIVE on the SPEED Channel starting at 9:00p.m. ET on Saturday, April 10.
CITGO, based in Tulsa, Okla., is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, refined waxes, asphalt and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petr?leos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information on CITGO visit www.citgo.com.
Additional information on drivers Milka Duno and Andy Wallace is available at www.milkaduno.com and www.andywallace.com, respectively. For more information on the Grand American Sports Car Series please visit www.grandamerican.com.
Contents ©® 2001/2002 Milka
Duno - All Photographs Courtesy of Octavio Estrada