Duno eyes Daytona 24 win

Duno eyes Daytona 24 win

Milka Duno has her eyes set on scoring victory in the Daytona Rolex 24 on Sunday, February 6th. The Venezuelan racer has class, including overall, wins in the Grand Am series, along with wins in other sportscar endurance series on her impressive...

Milka Duno has her eyes set on scoring victory in the Daytona Rolex 24 on Sunday, February 6th. The Venezuelan racer has class, including overall, wins in the Grand Am series, along with wins in other sportscar endurance series on her impressive racing record.

However, a class win has eluded her at the famed Daytona International Speedway 3.56 road course; including the coveted the overall win.

Milka Duno.
Photo by Motorsport.com.
"This will be my third time racing at the Rolex 24," commented Duno. "I raced it last year in a Daytona Prototype and finished 9th in class and in 2001 in a Dodge Viper finishing 6th in class. Both of those races were run in incredibly heavy rain - I hope it doesn't rain that hard this time."

Duno was referring to the 2004 race when heavy rain finally brought out a red flag, stopping the race for nearly three hours in the 42nd Annual Rolex 24. A major portion of the event ran under extremely slick conditions.

The talented racer made history when she became the first women to win a Grand American Rolex Series event; she was also the first woman to drive to victory in the Petit Le Mans at the Road Atlanta road course, all in the same season.

"I've been very lucky to have won the Petit twice (in class) - in 2004 with Intersport Racing in the new LMP 2 class and in 2001 in the LMP 675 class with Scott Maxwell and John Graham.

"While I feel very fortunate to have won the Petit Le Mans it doesn't really change the pressure I feel, or put on myself," she explained. "For me, I always feel pressure to win and it doesn't really change - whether I've won a race before, or if I even won a race the week before.

"Each race is a new race and I try and approach them all the same with regard to my desire to compete at the best of my ability. I always feel pressure to win and the pressure stimulates me to give it my best every time I'm behind the wheel."

The 2005 Rolex 24 will again see two Citgo Racing Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototypes going for the "Rolex". Duno will partner two IndyCar Series stars, Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon. Joining the threesome will be Dario's younger brother Marino, a sportscar specialist.

"Although this is the first time driving with all three," expressed Duno, "I must tell you that even before I started racing professionally I was, and still am, a huge fan of Dario's and follow his career enthusiastically. To finally have a chance to drive with him is like a dream come true!"

#2 CITGO - Howard - Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford: Milka Duno, Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, Marino Franchitti.
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.
All four drivers tested earlier in January at Daytona in the GARRA pre-season open test. "While I've never driven with these great drivers before I am very well aware of their reputations and excellent skills. We were all very focused for the test and I can tell you that all three of them are very competitive and have a very strong desire to win."

Duno will sit in the cockpit of the No. 2 Citgo Racing machine, "The car I'll be racing in is the same as last year - but with consistent season-long improvements. With each race last year we learned so much and our amazing crew was able to translate what was learned into improvements on the car."

Thursday will mark the official start of on-track activity for the 2005 Grand Am season. And the DP class has grown by leaps and bounds, making the competition on-track tighter. Duno and her regular co-driver, Andy Wallace, scored the win at Homestead-Miami Speedway early last year.

For the Daytona season opener, the two will be split as Wallace is one of a trio of drivers entered in the team's No. 20 Pontiac Crawford prototype.

Duno looks forward to the challenge that a larger field will bring, "I'm very pleased that there will be more Daytona Prototypes this year. This series has really taken off and is attracting more teams and more drivers and the caliber of both is rising each and every year.

#2 CITGO - Howard - Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford: Milka Duno, Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, Marino Franchitti.
Photo by Bob Harmeyer.
"It is wonderful to be competing against many of the best drivers in the world. For me, it just increases the challenge, the level of competition. I'm the type of person that needs a challenge, appreciates a challenge - because in that way hopefully I will compete harder and better."

She might be the only lady contender in the DP class, but she is like all the other drivers who will sit behind the wheel as they focus on one thing this weekend: To take the checkered flag on Sunday as the Rolex 24 race winner.

As Duno expressed, "I always, for every race, feel that my chances are good for victory. I always start the race believing I can win. I feel that I owe that to myself and the team - and my co-drivers. I don't know that any co-driver or team would want to race with someone who didn't think they could win. I certainly wouldn't.

"I start every race thinking that we can win. I can't even imagine trying to race any other way. Do I think I have a good chance of winning this year's Rolex 24? You bet!"

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Series GRANDAM