MILKA DUNO LEADS AND HAS BEST FINISH OF 2008 AT CHICAGOLAND; RICE TAKEN OUT
Milka Duno finishes 14th; Buddy Rice finishes 25th
JOLIET, Ill. - Milka Duno brought her #23 CITGO Honda home with a season-best finish in Sunday's Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway with a 14th-place result.
More importantly, Duno led her first laps in an IndyCar Series race.
On Lap 141, during a caution period, while most of the field ducked into the pits for their second-to-last pit stops, the CITGO crew had Duno stay out, knowing she only had one more stop to make anyway. The move sent Duno up to the front of the pack, enabling her to lead her first laps in the IndyCar Series.
On the ensuing restart, she led the field down to the green and pulled away a bit from those behind her: Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Danica Patrick, and Dan Wheldon. After a couple of laps, Castroneves and Wheldon found their way around, but Duno remained in the main draft before she made her last pit stop.
A yellow flag flew on Lap 182, after Duno pitted, and she was caught down a lap to the leaders. Still, she continued to fight for every bit of track position, and she eventually finished the event in 14th, her best result of the season.
Buddy Rice was bitten with some bad luck and controversial contact in pit lane, ruining his race. Starting in 22nd, he marched his way up the field. On every pit stop, his team gained him several spots.
On Lap 110, under yellow, the field came into the pits for a round of scheduled pit stops. Again, the Dad's Root Beer team had another fast pit stop, sure to gain Rice more positions in the field. Rice was sent out, but unfortunately, the #06 car of Graham Rahal was waved out as Rice was driving by. Rahal turned into Rice, who was in the fast lane, damaging Rice's left rear suspension and rear wing assembly. The sudden impact knocked Rice out of the race.
The team walks away knowing that it did a superb job in the pits, gaining Rice a total of 3-5 spots on every stop.
With the regular season over, Rice finishes the season with six top-tens with a best finish of fourth in Watkins Glen. Duno finishes the season with two distinct honors: highest finishing woman in the Indianapolis 500 as well as season lap leader among all female drivers. Third driver, Townsend Bell, finished his season with three top-tens in seven starts.
Next up for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is an exhibition race in Surfer's Paradise, Australia. The event will take place on October 26th with live coverage in the U.S. on ESPN Classic on October 25th at 10:30 p.m. ET.
#15 DAD'S ROOT BEER/DRR Honda Dallara Driver Buddy Rice
"That's a disappointing way to finish the race. To get taken out like that instantly, it's a shame. The Dad's Root Beer Honda was just starting to come alive. The Dreyer and Reinbold crew did a great job all day in the pits helping me move up through the field. We were on pace to have a really good finish, and it just got taken away suddenly. I'm not sure what else we could have done."
#23 CITGO/DREYER & REINBOLD RACING Honda Dallara Driver Milka Duno
"It was fantastic. We led our first laps. It was great for us. The guys did a great job. We'll continue to work for next year. We showed we have a lot of potential as a team. We just need to find the resources to improve and continue to build our team to be faster all the time. I have to say many thanks to all the guys. They continue to believe in me, and I showed what we can do when we have good conditions. I have to thank Robbie (Buhl), my coach. I have to thank my engineer, Ivan Koldsgaard, my spotter, Dane Carter, and all of the mechanics. Everyone did a wonderful job this weekend."
Team Co-Owner, Dennis Reinbold
On race: "Really disappointing ending to our race. The Dad's Root Beer guys did a great job on every stop to gain us positions. We got better and better as the race went on and were as fast as anybody out there. We had a good chance to have a really good result at the end, but a mistake by someone else cost us." On season: "We've got a lot of work to do in the off-season. We got better this year. We were able to run in the top-ten most of the time. A couple of DNFs didn't help us overall in the points, but we've definitely got something that we're growing and making better for the future."
Team Co-Owner, Robbie Buhl
"For us, for Milka, the #23 CITGO car, this was a pretty good way to end the year. She earned her best finish this year, ran hard all race long, and got to lead a couple of laps under green. You always ask to end the season on a high note. We got that done here, and we build from there. So, that carries us into the winter."