Daytona: Milka Duno race report

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Milka Duno's Strong Run Ends Early at Daytona
Gets caught up in wreck 16 laps shy of the finish

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (February 12, 2011) - Milka Duno had her sights set on a top-ten finish in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway when, with only 16 laps remaining, a nine-car accident brought her night to an early end.

"Milka ran a great race today," said Crew Chief Jon Wolfe. "She did exactly what we asked her to do. We were close to our goal of a top-10 finish, we just got taken out."

Duno took the green flag from the 23rd position and wasted no time moving forward. By lap two she had already moved her No. 63 machine up to the 16th position, but it didn't take long for things to get interesting for Duno. On lap four the first caution of the night came out when No. 94 of Brett Hudson lost a tire right in front of Duno. With some great driving, the Venezuelan-native was able to avoid Hudson's spinning car.

The field went back to green on lap seven, and Duno continued her climb to the front of the field, moving to the 14th position by lap 18, when the second caution of the night again slowed the 43-car field. A multi-car accident occurred right in front of Duno's No. 63 Dodge. For the second time of the race, with head's-up driving and quick reflexes, Duno was able to avoid the wreck.

Crew Chief Jon Wolfe used the caution as an opportunity to bring his driver down pit road for her first and only time of the night. The Sheltra Motorsports team serviced their No. 63 Dodge with a lightning-quick fuel only stop and sent Duno on the way. As she went to pull out of her pit box, Duno got blocked in by another car and was forced to backup before she could make her exit, relegating her to the 25th position for the restart.

The green flag waved again on lap 20 for a long green-flag run. During the run Duno clicked off some of the fastest lap times of the race. On lap 23 Duno circled the 2.5-mile track at a speed of 190.998 mph, 9.561 mph faster than her qualifying speed, setting the fastest lap run during the first half of the race.

By the halfway point, on lap 40, Duno had climbed her way back to 16th and was biding her time for a strong finish when the action picked up again. On lap 46, a multi-car wreck brought out the red flag, allowing Duno and Wolfe set their strategy for the remainder of the event.

The field went back underway on lap 51 and Duno wasted no time moving her No. 63 Dodge into the 12th position. Duno held her position for the next 13 laps setting her strategy for the shoot-out to the checkered flag.

Unfotunately for Duno, the chance for a race to the finish would not be possible. Hal Martin, in the No. 55, suffered a blown tire. As the tire blew, Steve Arpin's No. 25 moved to the inside to avoid Martin, but instead caught Duno in the right front, leaving her nowhere to go. The collision ultimately collected nine cars, and brought Duno's night to an early end. Duno went on to finish 31st, 16 laps shy of the finish.

"We had a really good race going," said Duno. "I really appreciate the car that the team gave me. It was a really good car. It was a great team effort. We ran close to the top-10 for much of the night. We were running some of the fastest laps of the race. I am just really sorry for what happened and very disappointed for my guys. They gave me such a great car and Jon (Wolfe) had a great strategy. The No. 25 just made a bad move, and we got caught in a wreck."

Following the finish of the race, Duno's team owner Patrick Sheltra had nothing but positive remarks for how his rookie driver ran the race.

"Milka did a real good job," said team owner and 2010 ARCA Champion Sheltra. "She stayed out of trouble and drove a clean race. It's unfortunate that (Steve) Arpin got in to her. I was very impressed with her. She learned a lot during the race and showed a lot of potential for the future."

-source: milka duno/sm

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Series ARCA