Wallace, Duno Charge to Fourth at Fontana ...
Wallace, Duno Charge to Fourth at Fontana
#2 CITGO Team scores first top-five of 2005 season
Fontana, CA (April 3, 2005) -- Andy Wallace and Milka Duno piloted the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford to a fourth-place finish in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at the California Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
The weekend was scheduled to begin with an "open test" day on Thursday, March 30th; however high winds brought all activities at the 2.82-mile track to a halt and forced a cancellation of the test. The Santa Anna winds were estimated at speeds of between sixty and seventy miles per hour during the day.
Mother Nature cooperated on Friday permitting practice and qualifying for the Grand American Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes to proceed as scheduled.
Milka Duno was selected to qualify the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford on Saturday afternoon and was scored with a lap of 1 minute 37.856 seconds to earn the 21st starting position in the 45-car field. During the qualifying session Duno was well on her way to a much faster lap time and higher qualifying position when she was clipped by another car - which ended the session for her. With an ultra competitive field of Daytona Prototypes in the race, track position and pit strategy would play a major role in the outcome of the event.
Duno would start the CITGO Pontiac Crawford and drove a calculated first stint in the 86-lap event. During the first scheduled pit stop of the race, the CITGO crew refueled the car and changed four tires. Continuing with their race strategy, Andy Wallace assumed the pilot role and began his stint. As the race progressed, several teams utilized different pit strategy and the veteran road racer began his climb in the running order. By lap 48, Wallace had moved to the third position and made his second scheduled pit stop of the race. The CITGO team once again refueled and changed four tires for the sprint to the finish.
Wallace rejoined the race in the seventh position and was able to work his way to fourth as the laps began to wind down. Mounting a late-race charge, Wallace closed on the third place car, but came up less than one-half second short of a podium finish. However, the fourth-place finish was the first top-five finish of the season for the talented Wallace/Duno team and gave the CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports momentum as the series heads to Laguna Seca for the next race on the 2005 schedule.
"It was really a good race, very close and exciting at the finish," Duno commented. "We were in a strong race for a podium finish and were very, very close. We finished fourth and because of that, I'm very happy. In my opinion, a good racing team is striving all the time to better their results. We finished this race with a much better result from last year (9th) which demonstrates that we are constantly improving. Many thanks to my teammate Andy (Wallace) and the entire team for working so very hard."
The CITGO Team did a fantastic job," Wallace added. "They gave me a very good race car today. We almost got to the podium, but not quite. This race result was good for us because we had two days here with a lot of frustration. But, come race day, it all came together and I'm very, very happy."
The #2 CITGO Racing Team now looks to the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the fourth race of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Series season. Practice and qualifying will begin on April 29th with the race set for Sunday afternoon May 1st.