home track The CITGO Racing by SAMAX team will be close to home for the next Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race, scheduled for March 25 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. The team will travel 70 miles from its base in...
The CITGO Racing by SAMAX team will be close to home for the next Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race, scheduled for March 25 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. The team will travel 70 miles from its base in Pompano Beach, Fla. Driver Milka Duno, a resident of both Miami and Venezuela, will drive just 35 miles from home to track. Her co-driver, Marino Franchitti of Bathgate, Scotland, will have a longer commute.
Duno has enjoyed home-track advantage in the past, with two Rolex Series victories on the 2.3-mile Homestead circuit that combines an infield road course and a banked oval. Her first victory, in February, 2004, was the first overall win for a woman in a major international sports-car race in North America. She followed with another win seven months later.
"I think every driver looks forward to racing at their home track, and I'm certainly no exception. I've had some great experiences at this track and I'm hoping that we'll have a great result this time, too! CITGO Racing by SAMAX has a great team spirit and Marino and I work very well together. We will all be working very hard to put on a good race," she said.
Marino Franchitti may be far from home, but he'll be close to family at Homestead. His brother Dario is competing in the IndyCar Series race on the Homestead oval on March 26, so the brothers will have an opportunity to share track tips.
"With Dario racing the same weekend, that's a huge thing for me. He's my best friend and I go to his races any time I can, and vice-versa for him, so it's just perfect," Marino Franchitti said. "He helped me out the first time I went to Homestead. Even though we're running different track configurations, he knows the road course from testing."
And the track layout? "I like it a lot! Road-course ovals sometimes aren't well-thought-out, but this is a really interesting track. The last two years, I've watched the Grand Am race here and it was always a stonker, a really great race."
CITGO/SAMAX chief mechanic Brian Colangelo has extensive experience preparing both open-wheel and sports cars. He noted the biggest difference in car setup at Homestead is preparation of the Rolex Series cars for the transition from the infield road course to the banked oval. Several changes have also been made to the No. 11 Pontiac-powered Riley Mk XI since the last race, run on a road course at high altitude in Mexico City.
"We have to deal with the transition onto the banking, so we might need the ride height a little higher. We have a wide car with bodywork on all four corners and we weigh more [than Indy cars], so we have to make sure we're not running too low," Colangelo explained. "Going from high altitude to low altitude, the air will be thicker, so we'll get more downforce, therefore we need to trim the car out. The gear ratios will be different, too."
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.