Long Pond, Pa. – Milka Duno delivered yet another top-15 finish by taking the checkered flag in 14th in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway. Her 14th place finish at Pocono marks her fifth top-15 finish of the season so far.
Luckily for Duno and her Venturini Motorsports team that they participated in the ARCA Open Test at Pocono on Wednesday – giving them their only time on the track before Saturday’s race - as the practice and qualifying sessions on Friday were both rained out.
Starting 9th on the grid, as determined by Car Owner Points, Duno and her crew were looking forward to a great start to the 80 laps / 200 miles race on Pocono’s famous 2.5-mile triangle.
As Duno started to roll out of the pits toward pit exit and the start of the warm-up laps for the race her steering wheel hadn’t been attached correctly – limiting her steering ability – and she needed to slow and stop in order to readjust the wheel. ARCA rules are clear and if you stop once the grid starts to roll out you will lose your starting position and be placed in the back of the line. As a result, Duno started the race 34th.
By lap 3 she was 22nd.
The first caution of the race came on lap 4 and Duno came to the pits for some adjustments to the No. 35 Cantv/Milka Way Toyota and to top off with fuel.
On the restart, the car in front of Duno did not restart well and was very slow - and as she was coming up quickly from behind she had no choice but to pass to the right to avoid contact. As ARCA rules do not allow passing on the right on a restart Duno was required to give up a position, but it was not possible to get back in the line only one position behind - and she could only get back in line after losing four spots.
By lap 48 Duno had advanced to 15th.
On the fourth and final caution of the race Duno was brought in for her second and final pit stop of the race. The team quickly made some additional adjustments to the car, gave her four new tires, topped her off with fuel and sent her back out.
By lap 59 she was 13th.
Duno would finish 14th and score her 5th top-fifteen finish of the first seven races of the season so far - and holds onto 7th in the Driver Point Standings.
“We had a bit of good luck and then a bit of bad luck at Pocono,” said Milka. “We lost the practice and qualifying time on the track – but then got a 9th starting position. Then we had the problem with the steering wheel and were sent back to last. We climbed back up very quickly and then had the bad luck on the restart. Up then back, up then back. But we just don’t give up or give in – and with the great work in the pits by the crew and with the expert help from my crew chief and spotter – we went from starting last to finishing 14th! It would have been great to see how we might have finished with a 9th place start on the grid – but that’s the way racing is sometimes.”
"Today was a learning experience trying to figure out what Milka needs out of a car at the intermediate tracks,” said Billy Venturini, Director of Competition for Venturini Motorsports. “We feel like we made gains and are looking to improve at upcoming races."
About Milka Duno
Duno has eight major race wins in the highest classes (Prototype) in the American Le Mans Series and Rolex Series and the highest finish ever by a female driver (2nd Place) in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the 48-year history of the race. She is currently making a transition from IndyCar racing to stock car racing and for 2013 is competing for her first full season in the 2013 ARCA Racing Series Championship with Venturini Motorsports. Her next challenge is to become the first Latina in history to compete in NASCAR.
Off the track, Duno is a certified Naval Engineer who holds four master’s degrees, earning the last three simultaneously.
Duno is also working through her “Milka Way” program to inspire youth to “Aim for the Stars” and achieve academic excellence. For more information on Milka Way, visit www.milkaway.com.
Fans cans also logon to her official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheOfficialMilkaDunoFanPage.
Duno can also be followed on Twitter at @MilkaDuno
About Venturini Motorsports
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Kevin Swindell, Miguel Paludo, John Wes Townley, Josh Richards and Johanna Long.
In 2012, VMS and the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano, among others.
After nearly two decades away from NASCAR, 2013 marks VMS’s modern day return to the series with John Wes Townley driving the team’s familiar No.25 in selective NASCAR Nationwide Series events