Millville, NJ. – While road courses feature multiple turns - there were just too many “twists and turns” for Milka Duno to overcome in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Barbera's Autoland 150 presented by Driven Racing Oil at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP).
Having earned her first career ARCA Series top-10 finish at NJMP and the “Hard Charger” award as well in 2012, Duno was hoping to improve on her performance at the 2.3-mile road course this year.
Very early in the first practice session for the 67-lap 150-mile race something broke in the left front of the car which sent Duno head-on into the wall – ultimately destroying her primary car.
The Venturini Motorsports (VMS) squad quickly began prepping the back-up car and all hoped that it would be ready for the final practice that same day. But the back-up car, being an oval car and not a road course car, took a bit longer to prep and while the final practice was missed, Duno was able to take the car out in the qualifying session and qualified 17th.
As Duno’s back-up car had only the few laps (in qualifying) on the track the decision was made to continue working on the car for the race – which meant that her 17th-place on the starting grid would be taken away and Duno would need to start the race last – in 30th.
Due to confusion during the warm-up laps caused by problems with radio communication between Duno and her team Duno actually started the race in 25th, but was then penalized and served a drive-thru penalty during the early laps of the race.
Duno was able to break into the top-20 by lap nine and had advanced up to 18th when the problems with radio communication throughout the race would cause yet another problem. The engine in Duno’s car had dropped a cylinder and fuel was desperately needed as well. The team was trying to bring her to the pits for tires, fuel and adjustments but Duno could not hear the communication due to the radio problems and her car came to a complete stop on the track on lap 30. She was pushed into the pits where the VMS pit crew did their best to manage the situation and send her back out with a full tank and new tires.
Back on the track, on lap 32, the engine gave out. Her race for the day had come to an end and she was scored as finishing 21st.
“We came to NJMP with high hopes of improving on my finish last year,” said Duno. “I was only four laps into the first practice session when something broke on the car which sent me into the wall. As it turns out, that would only be the start of our troubles throughout the weekend. We just had so many obstacles thrown at us but everyone worked magnificently to meet each challenge and to overcome it. Even with the penalty we were able to get up to 18th by lap 30– just one position behind our qualifying spot - but then the engine trouble and then ultimately the engine going away ended it for us. We were able to overcome everything else but when an engine goes there’s nothing more that can be done.”
"We really had a lot of things thrown at us this weekend, said Kevin Caldwell, Crew Chief, No. 35 Venturini Motorsports Cantv/Milka Way Chevrolet. “We did our best to deal with every one of them and we did – but when the engine goes - that’s it - and we were done for the day.”
Duno left NJMP having advanced to 6th in the Driver Point Standings and heads to Pocono Raceway for the second race of the season at the famous “tricky triangle” on Friday, August 2nd.
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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.