July 2, 2004 -- The CITGO Racing cars delivered impressive 3rd and 6th place finishes at the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach on Thursday night July 1, 2004. The ...
July 2, 2004 -- The CITGO Racing cars delivered impressive 3rd and 6th place finishes at the Paul Revere 250 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach on Thursday night July 1, 2004. The #2 CITGO-branded Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype, driven by Milka Duno and Jan Lammers, finished 6th, and the #20 CITGO-branded Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype, driven by Andy Wallace and Tony Stewart, brought home a podium appearance with a 3rd place overall in the 70 lap race.
It was anticipated that Milka and Jan would start the race 18th because the team needed to replace the engine after qualifying, but they we're able to start in their qualifying position of 13th overall.
Milka gave an outstanding performance which saw her drive from 13th to 6th before handing over the car to Jan on lap 32 - just before the half-way point of the race.
"We made the best we could through all the practice sessions and qualifying with an engine that was not operating at top speed," said Milka. "We put in a new engine and I started off in 13th and I knew that I had my work cut out for me. Always at the beginning of the race there is more traffic because the cars are all bunched together. It was really very competitive right from the very start and continued that way not only for my stint -- but for the entire race as well. I tried to drive as quickly as I could through the pack and I was very happy that I was able to bring the car to Jan in 6th."
With Jan on-board, the team was hoping to see a few caution periods to enable the #2 CITGO car to save enough fuel to make it to the end of the race without having to make another visit to the pits. While there were a number of caution laps, it was simply not enough and during the last caution of the race, which ended with only 7 green-flag laps remaining to the end, Jan darted in for a quick splash of fuel to finish the race. While Jan was able to accomplish this without losing position, it removed any chance he had of advancing his position.
"I just needed a little bit of fuel to be able to get to the end," commented Jan. "When I went back out after the pit stop I was really surprised how little time was left in the race. I thought we had another 45 minutes or so. The time really went by very quickly. Before the pit stop I was right there in the pack and sometimes in the heat of the closing battle small mistakes are sometimes made and you can capitalize on that and advance your position. I had hoped to do just that, but the need to put in some more fuel took me out of the bunch. I think that if it hadn't been needed, I might have been lucky enough to capture another position."
The #20 CTIGO-branded Pontiac Daytona Prototype started the race with NASCAR's Tony Stewart behind the wheel. It was apparent right from the start that Tony was on a mission and he piloted the car to 3rd before the lead cars started to pit. Due to excellent fuel mileage, Tony assumed the lead of the race and managed to drive to the half-way point of the race before handing over to Andy Wallace on lap 35. A classic race then developed as the two cars ahead of Wallace would have to pit to make the finish, while Wallace would be able to make the end of the race on one tank of fuel. However wearing tires meant that his approximately 40-second advantage over the #10 Prototype (the eventual winner) was being eroded with each lap. Late caution periods that bunched the field wiped out the advantage that the fuel strategy had created and the #20 CITGO Pontiac slipped back to 4th. However, a dramatic pass on the last corner of the last lap saw Wallace capture 3rd place and a deserved spot on the podium.
"It was a great race for us, but I just didn't have anything for those two guys in front of us," said Andy. "The team did a fantastic job. Tony did a superb job. We've just got to work a bit more on traction -- and we'll definitely work on that before the next race. It was a really good scrap right to the very end. Obviously, it's never over until it's over and I knew all the way up to the line that we had a chance. I managed to squeeze by at the line. I don't know how much I beat him by -- but it wasn't much."
"Tonight was a perfect example of a lot of the races we run in the Nextel Cup -- when you have to conserve rear tires," said a satisfied Tony. "Tonight was no different - so at least my experience with that might have helped me. It was just a great effort by everybody at Howard-Boss Motorsports. Max and Jan Crawford are the only family that I've ever raced with in sports car racing. They pour their heart and soul into their racing. It's kind of like racing for the underdogs -- and I remember that well from when I used to race for my dad. To see the success they're having - I'm really very, very happy for them. I love running with Andy -- he's such a good teacher and mentor."
Tony added, "I really look forward to these races and having CITGO on-board. They really complete the package and make this a race-winning potential team. It's just a matter of time for this team. We had one taken away from us at the Rolex 24 and a little bit of bad luck with a late caution tonight may very well have cost us the win. At least the two races I've run this year with this team I've been in contention for the win both times -- and that's all you can ask for."