MILKA DUNO: INDY 500 QUALIFYING
LOS ANGELES, CA (MAY 24, 2010) - The format for this year's Indy 500 offered new and unique challenges to the 41 entries vying for a spot in the coveted 33 car starting field. This is the first year in modern history that the qualifying format for the legendary race was scaled back to a single weekend, making the challenges of car set-ups, weather conditions and the luck of the draw all crucial factors.
Duno showed great promise on opening weekend and throughout the week leading up to this past weekend's qualifying sessions. Weather conditions leading up to qualifying were very favorable, but for the first time since on-track preparations started hot, humid and windy conditions for both Saturday and Sunday would become part of the challenge for Duno and the Dale Coyne Racing team.
Duno drew the 44th spot for Saturday's session and went out in hotter conditions - but still managed a 222mph+ qualifying time - bettering her successful qualifying time of 221mph for the 2009 race. She would eventually be bumped from the top 24 spots that were available on Saturday but determined to secure one of the final 9 available spots on Sunday.
In her first Bump Day attempt early in the session on Sunday Duno was running in the 223mph range when a fuel pressure problem would avert her effort on the third of the four required qualifying laps. As the day turned hotter the team worked harder toward another attempt in the last, coolest and most favorable hour of the day between 5 and 6pm.
Duno and her team had only two attempts remaining to bump their way into this year's Indy 500. An average four-lap speed of 223.8mph was needed. Trying twice in the last hour a 223mph flat was the best time that could be generated.
With only 3.0622 seconds separating the fastest and slowest qualifiers - the field for the 2010 Indy 500 is the closest matched field, by time, in the event's 94-year history.
Several other drivers, including Tony Kanaan and Paul Tracy, struggled to to make the field on the final day under tough conditions and extreme pressure. Kanaan made it in. Tracy, a former series champion and multiple race winner, was not able to find the speed and, like Duno, will miss this year's race.
"I'm incredibly disappointed for my sponsors and my team," said Duno. "We tried so hard, in a condensed amount of time, to earn a spot in the field. We just needed a little more time and a little more speed to make it in. Everyone on the team worked so very hard and I can't thank them enough for all their effort. We won't let this get us down; we'll go on from here and work very hard toward our next race in Texas and on the rest of the season."
"This was a total team effort and I am proud of Milka's and the team's efforts and determination," commented Dale Coyne. "This was a difficult week, instead of the one month of preparation available in the past. The new format and the strongest competition in the field since the days of the mid-90's made this a heartbreaker for all of us."
About Dale Coyne Racing
For more information on Milka Duno please visit www.milkaduno.com