CITGO Racing Team Ninth in Wild RaceTickets.com 250
Wallace, Duno charge from rear to post top-ten finish
Avondale, AZ (September 11, 2005) . In one of the wildest, crash-filled races of the 2005 season for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, the #2 CITGO Racing Team persevered to salvage a 9th-place finish. The RaceTickets.com 250 was the first Rolex Series race of the season with only the Daytona Prototype class competing.
Milka Duno qualified the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford on Friday evening and posted a fast lap of 1:01.878 / 77.684 mph. During qualifying she reported a problem with understeer that came into play on the oval sections of the circuit which affected her results. Her best speed under these conditions would place her 19th on the starting grid for the 250-mile event.
It didn't take long for the action to begin as the #54 and #6 made contact going into turn one on the first lap. With debris scattered throughout turn one, a full course caution waved on lap 3. It would be the first of four caution periods during the race which totaled 23 laps.
Duno would continue to pilot the CITGO Pontiac Crawford until lap 18 when she made a pit stop for tires, fuel, and a driver change. During her stint on the track she had advanced the car by as many as five positions and to as high as 14th. As she was making her way to the pits through turns ten and eleven, the #67 car made contact with the right rear of the CITGO car. Duno did a half-spin, but was able to continue to pit road. Duno was running in the 20th position at this point in the race.
"My thanks to the CITGO Racing Team and all the crew," said Milka. "It was very hot here this week and the team worked so very hard in these conditions. I was looking forward to racing on this relatively short circuit with just the Daytona Prototypes to reduce the field, rather than combined with another twenty or so GT's like last year. Even with that being done, it was still very close and competitive racing with a lot of contact."
Veteran Andy Wallace took the controls of the CITGO Pontiac Crawford and began to claw his way through the field. He moved into the top fifteen by lap 60. On lap 68, Wallace made a pit stop for tires and fuel when the massive buildup on the tires created a severe handling problem.
Then, when an extended caution period for a multi-car accident waved on lap 69, Wallace made a stop for fuel only on lap 73. With a full tank of fuel, Wallace was set to race to the finish and restarted in the 13th position.
Wallace would make another one of his patented late-race charges to the front and climbed into the top ten on lap 93. However, on lap132 a daring move to pass the #58 car entering turn one resulted in the CITGO Pontiac Crawford veering into the grass. Two laps later, Wallace came to the pits so that the CITGO crew could clean the grass from the radiator and keep the Pontiac Crawford from overheating.
Wallace would reenter the race and maintain his position in the field. Completing 142 of the 146 laps, Wallace would bring the CITGO Pontiac Crawford to the checkered flag in the 9th position.
"The CITGO Pontiac Crawford was really, really fast early on," Wallace commented. "But, I developed a severe understeer and the car was a handful after that. Then, the tire buildup became a problem too. However, we made it to the finish and scored a ninth. There was some wild action here tonight, so just surviving was a plus. My hat is off to the CITGO crew who worked very hard in this heat to prepare our car. They did a great job."
The next event for the CITGO Racing Team will be as Watkins Glen International on Saturday, September 24th. Practice and qualifying will be on Friday, September 23rd with the race set for a 3 PM ET start on the 24th. CITGO, based in Houston, Texas, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, refined waxes, asphalt and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information on CITGO visit www.citgo.com.
Milka is currently featured in Pontiac's largest ever Spanish language advertising campaign launching an all-new sports sedan -- the Pontiac G6. Pontiac is a division of General Motors Corporation (NYSE: GM) and markets the Bonneville, GTO, Grand Prix, Grand Am, G6, Vibe and Sunfire. In 2003, Pontiac sold more than 475,000 vehicles, ranking third among GM divisions in total sales. 2004/2005 will see Pontiac launch an exciting new range of vehicles including the Montana SV6, G6 coupe, G6 convertible and the Solstice roadster. More information on Pontiac and its products can be found at www.pontiac.com. Information in Spanish can be found at www.pontiac.com/sp.