SAMAX, CITGO announce Daytona team, drivers

CITGO Racing joins SAMAX Motorsport, Duno, Franchittis and McGarrity to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona Venezuela, Scotland and Northern Ireland will team with American power for the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Milka Duno of Caracas, Venezuela,...

CITGO Racing joins SAMAX Motorsport, Duno, Franchittis and McGarrity to compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona

Venezuela, Scotland and Northern Ireland will team with American power for the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Milka Duno of Caracas, Venezuela, will be reunited with two of her co-drivers in last year's Rolex 24, Scots Dario and Marino Franchitti. They will drive the No. 7 CITGO Pontiac-powered Riley Mk XI with Kevin McGarrity of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The race is scheduled for Jan. 28 and 29 on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway infield road course in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Duno, a triple Rolex Sports Car Series winner, is the first woman to win a major North American sports-car race and the first woman to score points in the highest Rolex Series class -- the Daytona Prototype. Dario Franchitti, now residing in Nashville, Tenn., has won 14 races in the IRL Indy Car Series and CART Championship Series. His brother Marino, of Bathgate, Scotland, has excelled in endurance racing, with results that include the fastest Rolex 24 GT test speed in 2002 and a record P2 pole in the 2004 12 Hours of Sebring. McGarrity has raced at the top in both open-wheel and sports cars. He set the fastest straight-line speed in the 24 Heures du Mans in 2004.

"Daytona is magical -- the environment, the people, the fun -- and the Daytona 24-hour is an amazing race," Duno said. "I'm very happy to race again with Dario and Marino because we raced last year and I learned so much from them. We'll return with Kevin for a podium this year!"

Marino Franchitti believes the quartet could be even stronger this year. "It's good to be back with the CITGO team," he said. "We were so competitive last year; we were fast enough to win the race. It's something to build on again for this year. I think it's going to be even more competitive -- the level just keeps going up -- but we've certainly got the car and the drivers to do it, so we'll try our best."

The Franchitti brothers partnered with Duno and Dan Wheldon of St. Petersburg, Fla., in the 2005 Rolex 24 and were running fourth when contact with a wayward Porsche ended the strong run after 18 hours.

"I'm really excited to be racing for CITGO again with Milka and my brother Marino," Dario Franchitti commented. "It is an added bonus to have my good friend Kevin McGarrity on the team this year. I think we will have a lot of fun, but ultimately we are here to try and win some watches!"

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Daytona Cosmograph watches are presented to the Rolex 24 class winners.

McGarrity is no stranger to 24-hour races, but this will be his first attempt at the Rolex 24. "I'm really happy to be on board," he said. "I happen to be racing with two good friends, in Dario and Marino. I can't wait to partner them and Milka. Dario and Marino said they got on well with her last year, so I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to get going!"

The CITGO Riley will be prepared by Florida-based SAMAX Motorsport, under the watchful eye of team owner Peter Baron. "I'm really happy to welcome CITGO to SAMAX Motorsport and to have the opportunity to combine the talents of the team with such an exciting driver lineup," he said. "I am confident we have all the ingredients to build a successful program."

The team will be on track for the Rolex 24 At Daytona test, Jan. 5 to 7.

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.

-samax/sp-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Milka Duno , Dario Franchitti , Kevin McGarrity , Dan Wheldon , Peter Baron , Marino Franchitti