CITGO Racing's Long Beach Post Race Report April 8, 2006, Long Beach, CA--Milka Duno, Marino Franchitti and the CITGO Racing team had high hopes for a second top ten finish of the season at today's Grand American Challenge of Long Beach -- the...
CITGO Racing's Long Beach Post Race Report
April 8, 2006, Long Beach, CA--Milka Duno, Marino Franchitti and the CITGO Racing team had high hopes for a second top ten finish of the season at today's Grand American Challenge of Long Beach -- the first ever street circuit appearance for the Daytona Prototypes.
Unfortunately an officiating error cost the #11 CITGO Pontiac Riley a lap - resulting in an 18th place finish. But for this error by the Grand American officials, the team would have almost certainly enjoyed a top ten finish.
A large accident on lap 12 brought out the first caution of the 90 minute race. Quick reactions by the CITGO Racing crew meant that the #11 car was the first car into the pits immediately following the accident. An excellent stop for fuel, tires and driver change put the car back out on track ahead of the lead car and still on the lead lap.
Officials then called the pace car and field to drive through the pits to avoid debris on the front straight. The call came when the #11 car was well past the entrance to the pits, but officials unfortunately assessed a penalty for staying on the front straight after it was closed. The result of this incorrect penalty meant that the CITGO car lost a lap which was impossible to make up during the shortened format of the 90 minute race.
Team management made an official protest without success. Peter Baron, Team principle said "not only are we upset by the outcome of the call, but we are also disappointed that Grand American policy seems to be that even if an error is admitted it will at best result in an apology. Other series revise results and perhaps this is something Grand American should look at in future. "
"I am so disappointed by this result that was not representative of the fantastic team effort," commented Duno. "We have had electrical and engine problems all weekend and when finally the car was working well in the race, and we got the yellow flag at the perfect time, we had a bad call that effectively put us out of the race. I want to thank the CITGO Racing crew for working so hard and I am now looking forward to testing this week in Sonoma and picking up our new race car at the end of the week."
Marino was equally upset and said "the CITGO Racing guys did a great job all weekend and just when it seemed that things were finally going our way we got convicted of a crime we didn't commit! Unfortunately these things happen in sport and we will take the positives out of the weekend and move on to the next race where we will have a brand new chassis and engine."