CITGO Racing 12th in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen
Tires, various problems plague Wallace, Duno, and Lammers
Watkins Glen, NY (June 12, 2005) - The CITGO Racing Team entered the sixth race of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season with high hopes and lots of momentum after their late-race charge to victory at Mont-Tremblant (Quebec) in the previous race. Experiencing a multitude of unique circumstances and obstacles, the talented trio of Andy Wallace, Jan Lammers, and Milka Duno appeared to be fighting an uphill battle throughout the weekend that resulted in a 12th-place finish in the second of two six-hour endurance races on the schedule.
The long weekend started with practice and qualifying. It was obvious from the very first practice that the Hoosier Tires selected for this event did not like the setup on the CITGO Pontiac Crawford. After further review, it was learned that the Hoosier Tires for this event were not the same compound that the team used to test and prepare for this event. Therefore, major adjustments would be necessary in a short period of time.
With the CITGO Team taking advantage of all the practice time available multiple setup solutions were tried during the two days prior to the event. For qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Milka Duno was selected to pilot the CITGO Pontiac Crawford and responded with a fast lap of 1:52.466 . With the tire problems still an issue, the #2 CITGO entry would qualify in the 20th position.
During the early laps of the six-hour event, Duno would move up to the 17th position when the first caution of the race waved on lap ten. The race would restart on lap fourteen and continue green until lap twenty-five when the second caution of the race waved. The CITGO Team would make their first pit stop of the race two laps later in the thirteenth position for tires, fuel, and a driver change.
Veteran Andy Wallace took over the driving duties and began his climb through the field. By lap fifty, Wallace had moved into the top ten. Six laps later, Wallace would pit in the ninth position and turn the driving duties to Jan Lammers.
Restarting in thirteenth, Lammers worked race traffic and gained nine positions until the third caution of the race waved on lap 79. Lammers would pit on lap 83 for tires and fuel and restart tenth. Two laps after the restarting the left front wheel came off the CITGO Pontiac Crawford and forced Lammers to nurse the car around the Watkins Glen course and back to pit road.
During his lap back to the pits, Lammers took several short cuts instead of driving the full course and the result would be a one-lap penalty by the Grand Am officials. However, by taking the shortest route back to the pits, Lammers prevented any major suspension damage and enabled the car to reenter the race in the seventeenth position.
Andy Wallace would relive Lammers on lap 96 during the next caution period. After gaining four positions in the next ten laps, rain began to fall on lap 112. Wallace would pit for rain tires on lap 114 and restart fourteenth. With heavy rain and fog making driving conditions difficult at best, Wallace was able to gain only two positions during the final nine laps. However, the one-lap penalty issued by Grand Am would result in a thirteenth place finish for the CITGO Team.
"It just absolutely wasn't our weekend," Wallace stated. "It was just a tough day for our team, but the CITGO team kept battling all afternoon. Driving in the rain and fog during the final stages of the race made passing nearly impossible. Weather conditions at the end were terrible."
"We were very hopeful for a repeat podium for CITGO, and had it not been for the wheel coming off, we most likely would have earned one," Duno commented. "Today, we faced tremendous heat, hard rain, and even fog. Yet, our team showed sports car fans at the track and on television how interesting and challenging endurance sports car racing can be. I'm happy I was able to enhance my starting position and hand over the car to my co-drivers on the lead lap. As always, they did an outstanding job under extreme conditions. Every member of the CITGO Racing Team put their heart and soul into this one. I'm looking forward to our next race at Daytona and, hopefully, another podium for CITGO."
"We've got to give a call to this CITGO Team," Lammers added. "We faced very tough circumstances all weekend and they kept working hard to adjust the car and make it competitive. Our result was not what we had hoped for, but this team did not let our misfortune get them down. They (CITGO Racing Team) are certainly one of the top teams in this series."
The next race for the Rolex Series will be at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, June 30th. The seventh race of the 2005 season is set for a 7 p.m. ET start.
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 .
Milka is currently featured in Pontiac 's largest ever Spanish language advertising campaign launching an all-new sports sedan - the Pontiac G6. Pontiac is a division of General Motors Corporation (NYSE: GM) and markets the Bonneville, GTO, Grand Prix, Grand Am, G6, Vibe and Sunfire. In 2003, Pontiac sold more than 475,000 vehicles, ranking third among GM divisions in total sales. 2004/2005 will see Pontiac launch an exciting new range of vehicles including the Montana SV6, G6 coupe, G6 convertible and the Solstice roadster. More information on Pontiac and its products can be found at www.pontiac.com . Information in Spanish can be found at www.pontiac.com/sp. For additional information on Milka and Andy please visit www.milkaduno.com or www.andywallace.com, respectively. For more information on the Rolex Sports Car Series log on to www.grandamerican.com.
Contents ©® 2001/2002 Milka
Duno - All Photographs Courtesy of Octavio Estrada