CITGO and Milka Debut at Daytona, Head Next to Grand Prix of Miami February 24, 2004 -- CITGO, in its maiden sports car racing effort, nearly walked away with the top crown at the Rolex 24 At Daytona January 29 --February 1, 2004. The ...
CITGO and Milka Debut at Daytona, Head Next to Grand Prix of Miami
February 24, 2004 -- CITGO, in its maiden sports car racing effort, nearly walked away with the top crown at the Rolex 24 At Daytona January 29 --February 1, 2004. The CITGO-sponsored Howard-Boss Motorsports team will build upon that stellar effort at the next event on the 12-race schedule --the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway February 26-28, 2004.
CITGO launched their year-long assault on the 2004 Grand American Sports Car Series championship season with an impressive two-car effort with Howard-Boss Motorsports at Daytona, featuring accomplished sports car aces Andy Wallace, Stephan Gregoire, Doug Goad and Milka Duno -- the first woman in history to pilot the series' highest class race car -- the Daytona Prototype. Joining CITGO and Howard-Boss Motorsports for the legendary twice-around-the-clock endurance classic were NASCAR superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon.
Milka, Stephan, Doug and Robby shared driving duties in #09 CITGO Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford, while Andy, Dale, and Tony took turns behind the wheel of the #2 CITGO Chevrolet Crawford.
The Central Florida weather played a significant factor during the 24-hour race with most of the event run in the sometimes light, sometimes heavy rain conditions that lasted for almost the entire race. The downpour caused a history-making full course caution that began at 3:05am and lasted until 6:25am -- a full 3 hours and 20 minutes. At 8:13am the race was red-flagged due to the heavy downpour and infield flooding until 10:29am.
The #2 CITGO Chevrolet Crawford, with Andy, Dale and Tony, was the undoubted star of the race by taking the overall lead at hour 6 and maintaining it until the closing minutes of the last and final hour, when, with only 20 minutes left to sure victory and with a 3-lap lead, a left rear problem forced a heart-breaking retirement.
"It's nice to come to Daytona. Everybody knows this is our biggest race of the year coming up in a couple of weeks," commented Tony. "This is sports car racing's biggest race of the year here in the United States. It's just an honor. We really have to thank the CITGO people a lot. They came on board at the last minute and really helped these teams out and gave them the funding they needed to really make us competitive. So we've got to thank CITGO and everybody at Max Crawford's operation. They have done such a great job giving three stock car drivers that don't have any time in these Daytona Prototypes -- they made us feel very comfortable in the car -- and fast," added Tony.
After a very strong start, the #09 CITGO Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford with Milka, Doug, Stephan and Robby, spun and hit the wall with Gordon behind the wheel at 5:20pm, which put the car behind the wall and in the garage for repair until 8:10pm -- putting them out of contention for the overall win.
"The whole right rear suspension went. We just got into a puddle coming on through the bus stop or chicane or whatever you want to call it and the thing turned around on me," said Robby.
After a grueling 24 hours, and within minutes of capturing the win, the #2 CITGO Chevrolet Crawford finished 5th overall and 3rd in class. The #09 CITGO Spirit of Daytona Pontiac Crawford ended the day 35th overall and 9th in class
"There was so much water everywhere. The team was working very hard - the drivers were too. Everyone was working so hard. I was so impressed," said Milka. "I'm having to adapt my driving style a little from the open wheel cars I raced in Europe last year, but the CITGO car is remarkably well balanced and very responsive to changes. For the rest of the season I'll be driving with Andy and I'm very happy because he is a very good driver. We have a good program and I'm happy to be part of the CITGO team. I think we'll have a great season this year."
Starting with the next Rolex Sports Car Series event at Florida's Miami-Homestead Speedway February 26-28, and continuing for the rest of the championship season, Howard-Boss Motorsports will field the #2 CITGO Crawford with Milka Duno and sports car ace Andy Wallace.
Milka, an engineer by training, has four master's degrees to her credit - in Naval Architecture, Maritime Business, Marine Biology and Organizational Development. These skills have helped her to reach the highest and fastest class of sports car racing in the world - by giving her the ability to communicate technically with the team's engineers and mechanics, with critical regard to improving the handling and performance of the race car. Using these skills Milka has advanced to this world-class level in an amazingly short five years. Milka is the first woman in history to pilot cars in this top class and is on her way to becoming one of the preeminent female racers in the world.
But racing fans are not the only ones that have noticed her rapid rise. With her striking Venezuelan beauty and natural charisma, Milka has had the good fortune of appearing in magazines such as Cosmopolitan en Espanol, Maxim en Espanol, Selecta, Latina Magazine and Catalina Magazine -- she can also soon be seen in the April, 2004 issue of Men's Fitness Magazine.
Andy, a 24-year racing veteran from Buckingham, England, is a three-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He has been a mainstay on the international sports car circuit for many years and is the only driver to win all four major road racing endurance events -- the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans.
"Co-driving with Milka is going to be really good fun," Andy commented. "We haven't driven together before, but I'm sure we'll help each other out and that everything is going to be just fine!"
Milka and Andy are proud and honored to have the support of CITGO. With CITGO's support, Milka and Andy are able to compete in this season's championship with Howard-Boss Motorsports - arguably one of the best sports car teams in the world.
CITGO's very successful debut at Daytona bodes well for their continued effort and we hope that you will join Milka, Andy and CITGO at the Grand Prix of Miami later this month -- and say hello to her in person! The Rolex Sports Car Series is extremely fan-friendly and offers many opportunities to meet Milka and Andy and other drivers in the paddock and at the autograph session.
If you are unable to attend this very colorful and exciting event, we invite you to view the SPEED Channel's tape-delayed broadcast of the race on March 7, 2004 at 4pm ET to see both Milka and Andy and their awesome, lightening-quick #2 CITGO Crawford Daytona Prototype in action!
CITGO, based in Tulsa, Okla., 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.
Additional information on drivers Milka Duno and Andy Wallace is available at www.milkaduno.com and www.andywallace.com, respectively. For more information on the Grand American Sports Car Series please visit www.grandamerican.com.