CITGO Racing Team Second in VIR 400 Wallace, Duno score second consecutive podium at VIR Alton, VA (October 9, 2005) -- The CITGO Racing Team charged to a second-place finish in the VIR 400 at the Virginia International Raceway on Sunday ...
CITGO Racing Team Second in VIR 400
Wallace, Duno score second consecutive podium at VIR
Alton, VA (October 9, 2005) -- The CITGO Racing Team charged to a second-place finish in the VIR 400 at the Virginia International Raceway on Sunday afternoon. It was their first podium finish since their victory in the 6 Heures du Mont-Tremblant on May 21st.
After a test day at VIR on Thursday, October 6th, rain dominated the weekend until just before the start of the race. The rain was so heavy at times during Friday and Saturday that all practice at the 3.27-mile course was suspended. In fact, qualifying for the VIR 400 for the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype cars was cancelled and the starting grid for the 77-lap event set by the Grand Am rulebook. Based on team owner points, the #2 CITGO Racing Pontiac Crawford would start in the seventh position.
Milka Duno would drive the first stint in the CITGO Pontiac Crawford and started the race under difficult wet conditions and did a terrific job maintaining a strong top-ten position until she pitted during the second caution of the race for tires, fuel, and a driver change. The track at VIR is challenging under perfect conditions and therefore even more so during wet conditions. In addition to the poor starting circumstances the competitors are always bunched up and anxious to advance in the first stint, yet Milka was able to hand the car off to her teammate Andy in stellar position and on the lead lap. Andy Wallace then took over the controls and began to work his way through the field.
When the third caution of the race waved on lap 30, many of the leaders chose to pit for service and driver changes. Wallace remained on the course and moved into the top five in the running order. The veteran road-racer then kept the pressure on the leaders until opportunity opened on lap 63. Entering turn 12, the #01 driven by Scott Pruett made an inside move to pass the #77 Ford for the lead. Wallace followed Pruett past the #77 car and took second place in the process. A caution two laps later bunched the field for the restart.
Wallace pressured Pruett, but could not get past the #01 car in the final laps. Wallace finished 2.181 seconds behind Pruett to earn the second consecutive podium for the CITGO Racing Team at VIR. Last year, the #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford finished third in the VIR 400.
"I had to pass a lot of cars today, and the 01 car with Scott (Pruett) was the only one between me and first place," Wallace stated. "He knew that and I knew that. He (Pruett) was really pedaling there at the end. It's a bit disappointing but it was a good finish for us. Milka (Duno) did a fantastic job during the first part of the race. The conditions were difficult and it would have been easy to wreck, but she didn't and turned the car to me in good shape. I'd like to congratulate everyone who raced around me today for a great race. It was very clean, but very competitive in some tough conditions. I want to thank Grand Am for the job they did this weekend. With weather conditions as bad as this, it could have been a terrible race, but it wasn't. I want to thank everyone associated with our program -- CITGO, Pontiac, Crawford and Howard-Boss Motorsports. The Hoosier Tires were great too! I'm happy with our day."
"It was such a great race for us today," Duno commented. "We raced very hard and scored our second straight podium at VIR. We were hampered by rain for most of the race weekend and while it didn't rain during the race the race did start under very wet conditions."
"I started the race in seventh due to our team's position in the Team Point Standings - which was great," Duno continued. "I was able to keep the car on the lead lap and hand it off to Andy in great position. Andy then led the charge and fought very hard for our second place finish. This is a really good win for us and CITGO - and very special as well for the Howard-Boss Motorsports team. This is basically the team's 'home track' and many of their families, friends and fans were here today to cheer us on. Many thanks to my teammate Andy, the entire crew and for the support of all those cheering us on."
"Scoring a podium here gives us great momentum going into our first-ever Rolex race in Mexico City in a few weeks," Duno concluded. "I can't wait for the race there and to meet all the wonderful Mexican racing fans!"
The final race on the 2005 Rolex Series schedule will be in Mexico City, Mexico on Saturday, November 5th. Practice and qualifying will be held on Thursday and Friday, November 3rd and 4th. Speed Channel will provide live coverage of the historic event.