Birmingham: CITGO Racing race report

October 10, 2004 - CITGO Racing's Milka Duno and Andy Wallace finished today's Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, in sixth place overall and sixth in class. The 250-miles/109-laps/2-hour, 45-minute limit event ended by...

October 10, 2004 - CITGO Racing's Milka Duno and Andy Wallace finished today's Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, in sixth place overall and sixth in class. The 250-miles/109-laps/2-hour, 45-minute limit event ended by time with 87 laps completed.

The #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype scored fastest in the last practice session this morning before the start of the race. Milka, as she has done for ten of the eleven races completed so far this season, started today's event behind the wheel and with rain threatening.

Milka once again kept the car safe and on the lead lap during the beginning of the race -- often when it's harder to do as the car's are bunched-up, hard-charging and on cold tires. Team strategy normally calls for a driver change at the first caution to save green flag time and today was no exception. The first caution fell very early at lap 7 and Milka brought the car in on the very last lap of the caution period and handed it over to Andy on lap 15.

The weather was to play a critical role in today's race -- even more so due to the fact that all teams had only two tire choices available to them -- either full-dry tires or full-wet tires. All teams started the race on dry tires even though the start of the race saw drops falling. By the time the driver change had been made and the green flag waved on lap 16 a light drizzle had started to fall.

Andy took the car into second overall on lap 50 and when the third caution of the race occurred on lap 51 Andy went into the lead briefly before pitting under caution on lap 53. While stopped for fuel and tires the team experienced a malfunction with the fueling rig that caused fuel to be spilling out - for safety reasons they had Andy return to the track and pit yet again for fuel so the team could use a back-up fuel rig. It was the right decision for safety reasons. This caused Andy to drop back to eleventh overall by the time the caution ended on lap 57.

The green flag on lap 57 didn't even last a lap and went to yellow again. As the rain had begun to fall harder and more consistently Andy came right back in again and took on wet tires.

With teams today having only two choices -- wet or dry tires -- it became a judgment call as to when and if to go to wet tires. If a team stays on "drys" and it rains too much their speed drops and the car looses grip. If they put on "wets" and it doesn't rain enough the wet tires will blister and become useless. Normally a team has a third choice -- intermediate tires -- which are for conditions much like todays. With only two choices to make some teams chose to stay on dry tires, some chose to change to wets.

With wets on and with the green flag resuming on lap 60 Andy went 18 laps on a track that never got wet enough to save the tires and when a caution fell again on lap 78 Andy had no choice but to pit again for new tires -- and as it had just started raining again the team once again put on a new set of wets.

When the caution ended on lap 79 Andy had fallen back to tenth overall and charged hard until the race ended under caution on lap 87. By that time Andy had advanced position to sixth overall and sixth in class.

"I am disappointed that we didn't do better in the race," said Milka. "It wasn't really anybody's fault but there were several small reasons. The great thing is that our car is still very fast and we remain as positive as always for the next race. I can't thank the CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports crew enough. Unless you work with a team you don't really get a good sense of just how hard crews work. Our guys worked harder this week than I could ever have imagined - thanks to them and to CITGO!"

"It was just one of those races. We got all the way to the lead for a very short time and then, it was nobody's fault, we did what we did and it just didn't work out," said Andy. "Then, we had a leaky fuel hose and had to make an extra stop for fuel. The conditions were tough and there were lots of wrecks today. Things could have been a lot worse."

The CITGO Racing Howard-Boss Motorsport team remains currently in third in the Daytona Prototype Team Point Standings, Andy is third in the Driver Point Standings and Milka is in fifth. The team competes next at the last round of the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Championship Series October 29-31, 2004 at California Speedway in Fontana, CA.

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.

For additional information on Milka and Andy please visit www.milkaduno.com or www.andywallace.com, respectively. For more information on the Rolex Sports Car Series log on to www.grandamerican.com.

-hc-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Milka Duno