Los Angeles, Calif. – Milka Duno headed into the last race of her historic first NASCAR Nationwide Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with two goals - to learn and to finish – and that she did.
Duno had earned some respectable stats during her time in the ARCA Racing Series in preparation for her entry into NASCAR - but the jump from ARCA to NASCAR is a big and difficult one with a steep learning curve.
In her first Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway race Milka qualified well and had a very good start but the car went away from her in very early laps and ended her debut prematurely.
With two wins at Homestead in the Grand American Rolex Series this would be her first time on the track at Homestead in a stock car – and she had much to learn – and she was doing just that by improving and getting faster in each session.
In the qualifying session leading up to the race an underperforming car placed her 39th on the starting grid for what would be an ultra-competitive season finale competition.
When the green flag waved on race day Duno started to move and by lap 120 she was in 36th. But Duno was not done yet – and she would advance another two positions to 34th in the last 20 laps of the race – and setting her fastest lap of the race on lap 201 of the extended 206-lap competition.
“This was only my second NASCAR Nationwide race” said Duno. “For this race I was trying to be more patient because at Kanas I was feeling that the car was so good I became overconfident and as a result of this it taught me a valuable and important lesson. We came to Homestead with a definite set of goals and we accomplished all of them. At the start of the race the car was not so good, but as the race progressed we were able to make changes to the car during each pit stop. With good communication between us those changes were heading in the right direction so I was able to prove what I’m able to do when the car is performing.”
“We came to Homestead with the intent to have Milka complete a Nationwide Series race and provide her an opportunity to get that done, said RAB Racing owner Robby Benton. “She learned a lot in this race and I think she earned some respect as well. She ran a good race with no incidents or issues. Competing at this level at this track is not a small accomplishment and I’m proud that Milka was able to take the checkered flag respectfully.”
Duno’s first season in NASCAR saw her achieve three historic Hispanic sports history milestones. When she debuted in her first Nationwide race at Kansas Speedway in October she became the first Hispanic female driver to compete in a NASCAR Nationwide series race in the USA and when she competed in the Camping World Truck Series at Talladega Superspeedway she became the first Hispanic female driver to compete in the USA in that series also. By leading laps at Talladega she also became the first Hispanic female driver to lead laps in a NASCAR national series race in the USA
“It has been a great season on many levels,” added Duno. “My sponsors gave me the incredible opportunity to fulfill a big dream of mine – to compete in NASCAR and I am supremely thankful for their support. Along the way we all made some significant Hispanic sports history as well. Many thanks also to the RAB Racing organization for signing me and giving me the chance to make my NASCAR debut with them.”
About Milka Duno
Duno has eight major race wins in the highest classes (Prototype) in the American Le Mans Series and the Grand American Rolex Series and the highest finish ever by a female driver (2nd place) in the 24 Hours at Daytona. When she won the Rolex Series Grand Prix of Miami she became the first woman in history to win a major international race in the USA. Duno was also the first Hispanic female driver, in the now 103-year history of the race, to qualify for and compete in the world famous Indianapolis 500.
In making her transition to stock car racing and her ultimate entry into NASCAR Duno has been competing in the ARCA Racing Series (ARCA) for the past three seasons. In her first full ARCA season in 2013 Duno finished the season 7th in the driver point standings and became the 2nd highest finishing female driver in ARCA’s history. She earned the pole at Talladega and led race laps at both Talladega and Daytona. Duno ended her 2013 ARCA season 3rd in most laps completed and 3rd in hard charger points.
Off the track Duno is a member of the Univision Deportes Network Formula One broadcast team as a commentator for their live F1 pre-race shows and live race broadcasts of all of the 2014 F1 races.
Duno also serves as a newly elected member of the 2014 Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Women & Motor Sport Commission. The FIA’s most prominent role is in the licensing and arbitration of the Formula One and World Rally Championship series. The International Olympic Committee provisionally recognized the federation in 2011, and granted full recognition in 2013.
As certified Naval Engineer with four master’s degrees – earning the last three simultaneously – Duno is a firm believer in the value of education and is working through her “Milka Way” program to inspire youth to “Aim for the Stars” and achieve academic excellence. Duno has taken this message to children, students, parents and teachers at all school levels all across the United States and around the world – including Venezuela, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. For more information on Milka Way, visit www.milkaway.com.
Milka’s official website is available at www.milkaduno.com
Fans cans also logon to her official Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/TheOfficialMilkaDunoFanPage.
Duno can also be followed on Twitter @MilkaDuno