MOBILE, Ala. (March 10, 2012) – Milka Duno delivered a stellar 18th place finish in today’s inaugural ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Mobile ARCA 200 at Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, AL. Starting the race dead last Duno reached as high as 15th and ended her race in 18th – a gain of 17 positions.
It was also Duno’s first race at the 0.5 mile track and without an opportunity test at the circuit she knew it was going to be challenge.
“I’m very encouraged by our result today given the circumstances we faced,” said Duno. “We didn’t test here last week and that affected us, but after practice and qualifying we still very much felt that we could be competitive in the race. We uncovered an issue with the brakes that I feel affected our times yesterday but we caught it in time for the race. Starting from the very back of the pack, in my first race, at a new and fast short track, with no testing is not an easy thing to do. But my crew chief and my crew were just outstanding and together we earned every bit of our 18th place finish today!”
Hitting the track for the first time on Friday in a rain-shortened practice session Duno was disappointed with their 29th place result. Only two hours later qualifying for the 200-lap race began and disappointment struck again as they were 29th quickest and needed a provisional to start the race 34th on the 35-car grid.
One of only two of the top-29 qualifiers to not have tested the week before at the first-ever ARCA test at the track, Duno, her crew chief Dave Leiner, Jr. and her Eddie Sharp Racing team were encouraged nonetheless by the fact that even without the several days of prior testing her qualifying time was only 1.085 seconds off the pole winner’s time.
Duno had also sensed a problem with the brakes during the practice and qualifying sessions and that issue was confirmed this morning before the start of the race. The skilled crew quickly made the needed repairs in time for the start – but as a result of the repair they now had to start the race in 35th.
Taking the green flag in last place Duno rapidly advanced into the top-30 and reached as high as 15th and then solidly in 23rd at the mid-point of the race. Having to apply tremendous control after twice being bumped, Duno remained tough and very competitive and as a result broke into the top-20 in the last quarter of the race and crossed the finish line 18th.
“I’m extremely pleased with Milka’s performance today,” said crew chief Dave Leiner, Jr. “This was absolutely Milka’s best performance on a short track that I have witnessed. We lost a bit of time in some areas and we’ll surely improve on that going forward – but I’m very happy and very encouraged by our effort here at Mobile.”
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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. 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.