Promising Debut Ends Suddenly for #2 CITGO Racing Team in Rolex
24 At Daytona
Mars 2005 Grand American Rolex Series
Daytona Beach, FL (February 6, 2005) - What looked to be a very promising
Rolex 24 At Daytona for the #2 CITGO Racing Team ended suddenly on lap 528
of the 710 lap event. The team of Milka Duno, Dan Wheldon, and Dario and
Marino Franchitti raced their #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford at the front of the
sixty-two car field for most of the event until an unfortunate accident
brought a premature ending to their first race of the 2005 season.
In their first ever start in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Wheldon and the
Franchitti brothers teamed with Rolex Series veteran Duno to challenge the
top sports car racers in the world. Just after the eighteen hour mark of the
event, Duno was nearing the end of her stint in the Pontiac Crawford when
contact initiated by a Porsche GT car in NASCAR turn three sent the #2 CITGO
car spinning into the wall. The severely damaged car was towed to the garage
where an inspection by the crew of the damage resulted in their retirement
from the event. It marked a disappointing end to a very competitive
beginning to the 2005 Grand American Rolex Series for the #2 CITGO Team.
"Just past the chicane I started to pass the GT car and had almost cleared
it when it drifted up and clipped me on the left rear and spun me around,"
said Milka. "At that place on the track you're really going very fast and
that, combined with the high banking, made it very difficult to try and
control the car after being hit. I was in fourth place overall at the time
and had reduced the lead of the car in third to only about five seconds and
was scheduled to pit and get out of the car in three laps. It's such a
disappointment not only for me, but my co-drivers, the team and CITGO. It
was such an incredible experience driving with Dario, Marino and Dan. The #2
CITGO Pontiac Crawford was running very well - had it not been for the
unfortunate contact by the GT car I really think we had a good chance for a
top-five - maybe even a podium. I would really like to compliment the crew.
They worked so hard preparing the car for the test sessions and worked even
harder while here at Daytona. They did a truly amazing job!"
Even though the race ended suddenly for the star-studded team, the
Howard-Boss Motorsports Team showed that they had the right combination of
car and drivers to race up front. In fact, Dario Franchitti led the event
three times for a total of twenty-six laps. Certainly an impressive showing
in his first Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"This was really a wonderful experience for me," Dario commented during the
event. "It's the first time that I've teamed with my brother Marino, and
with Milka and my Indy Racing League teammate Dan (Wheldon), we had a strong
team. The CITGO Team really prepared a great car, but driving through
traffic was a real problem at times. This finish in no way reflects how well
this team performed."
For Dario's younger brother Marino, the race was truly special. "I really
thought that we had an excellent opportunity for a strong finish," he
stated. "Everyone did a great job on the team, and I believe we surprised
some people with our performance. To be this competitive in this strong
field of drivers is a compliment to everyone involved."
The opportunity to drive in my first Rolex 24 with this team and group of
drivers was a real treat," Wheldon added. "The CITGO Pontiac Crawford was
really strong, and we were able to keep the car in contention throughout the
race. It's unfortunate that our raced ended the way it did, but I'm really
thankful to everyone who made this possible."
The final result will show the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford Team finishing 33rd
in the 62-car field, but the sports car fans witnessed a tremendous
performance from a quartet of very talented drivers. At least for eighteen
The next race on the 2005 Rolex Series schedule will be the Grand Prix of
Miami at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 5th. The race will hold
special meaning for Duno and the #2 CITGO Team. Last year, Andy Wallace and
Duno teamed to give the CITGO Racing Team and Howard-Boss Motorsports their
first career Rolex Series win in the Grand Prix of Miami. Plus, Wallace and
Duno made a clean sweep of the Rolex Series races at Homestead in 2004 with
their victory in the Miami 250 in September.
CITGO, based in Houston, Texas, 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 .
For additional information on Duno and her full season teammate Andy Wallace
please visit www.milkaduno.com or www.andywallace.com ,
more information on the Rolex Sports Car Series log on to www.grandamerican.com .