MILKA DUNO AND ANDY WALLACE WIN MIAMI RACE AGAIN!
CITGO Racing's Duno and Wallace Repeat with Miami
When Milka won the Grand Prix of Miami earlier this year with her teammate Andy Wallace she became the 1st woman in history to win a major sports car race in North America. She and Andy returned this week to defend their title and won today's race in the closing laps. Now Milka is the 1st woman in history to win two major sports car races in North America.
Milka took the green flag in the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype under partially-clouded skies with virtually no wind - that served to keep both the heat and humidity oppressive. Milka performed exactly according to the team's race strategy - stay out of trouble and on the lead lap.
The first caution of the race brought Milka and the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype into the pits and the team - using very wise pit strategy - took the opportunity to make a driver change rather that possibly later in the race under green-flag conditions. Milka brought the car in on lap 20 and in the 9th position overall. Again, due to wise pit strategy, the car gained a position under caution and in the pits and when Andy took the car out it had advanced to the 8th position.
By lap 42 Andy had garnered 2nd position overall and when the lead car came in for a green flag pit stop Andy stayed out and captured the overall lead on lap 43.
With the race starting with an ambient temperature of 95 degrees and a track temperature of 108 degrees the heat inside the closed-cockpit prototypes combined with the thick fireproof driver suits started to take its toll on the drivers. The #10 Daytona Prototype came in early to make a driver change just for that reason. It also started to take its toll on Andy. He slipped back to 2nd, and then to 3rd, then 4th then 5th. In-between he came in for a final fuel and tire stop - and the team handed him fresh cold water and poured several buckets of ice on the much over-heated Andy while he was still strapped in. Milka was standing by with suit zipped up, helmet and gloves ready, in case Andy needed to get out.
Courageously - he didn't get out - and was soon back on track and at top speed. Now he charged from 5th to 4th. Then 4th to 3rd and then to 2nd with 13 minutes left in the race. The ice was working! On lap 100 of the 104-lap race Andy captured the lead again for the last time and took the checkered flag.
"We came here to hopefully win again and had every intention of doing so," said Milka. "But even when you are that steadfast with your goal you know that a lot will happen between the starting flag and the checkered flag. When we won here in February it was because of a lot of hard work by everyone - plus some luck at the end. This time it was different. We didn't need as much luck this time. We fought longer, the car was faster and we drove harder. It's just amazing that Andy was able to stick it out in the car that long with all of the heat. Other drivers were simply giving in and giving up - but not Andy. It's hard enough racing under normal conditions but today's heat and humidity were off the scale and I can't thank the team enough for their hard work and dedication today during very trying times. I'd also like to say a special thanks to CITGO. They came on-board this year in a big way and have been tremendously supportive of me and the team. Without their support these two wins here at Miami would simply not have been possible," added a cheerful Milka.
"I know that this is something that's said all the time - but it's really thanks to everyone's hard work that we can even be in a position to win a race," said Andy. "Unless your car is quick you've got no chance at all and the teams done an awful lot of hard work recently with testing and all. At our last race at Watkins Glen we didn't get a good result and we thought it was due to circumstance - and I think today's result proved that it was just that. The car was fast all weekend. Milka did a great job by staying out of trouble and not letting the car be damaged by others in any way - there were a lot of cars out there today with pieces missing. And every time today that I looked at one of the crew guys they were absolutely dripping with sweat - this win is for them," added Andy.
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 Petróleos 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