Milka Duno qualifies for 91st running of Indianapolis 500
Venezuelan rookie makes history: first Latina and first time three women
will race at Indy.
Indianapolis - (May 20, 2007) Milka Duno, the newest driver and third female
in the IndyCar Series, will start the 2007 Indianapolis 500 in the middle of
the 10th row from the 29th starting position. Duno's run for the spot held
the attention of fans as they watched the IndyCar Series rookie from
Venezuela come back from a crash that took place on Friday, May 11th at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"When I crashed, I felt so bad but everyone was very supportive including
the team, the IndyCar Series, all the wonderful fans in Indianapolis, my
sponsor CITGO and many of the other drivers," said Duno. "I am really
grateful. We proved what a fantastic spirit there is in this team. Everyone
worked so hard and we never stopped believing, and now we are in!"
During the first week of practice, Duno damaged the #23 CITGO Dallara Honda
in Turn One of the oval racetrack. With the backup car not yet assembled,
Duno was forced to sit out the first weekend of qualifications while the
team worked hard to repair the primary car.
Further hindering her progress, when practice started again on Wednesday
weather conditions were challenging with high winds. Therefore, the SAMAX
Motorsport team elected to run only a few installation laps to make sure the
car was completely repaired. On Thursday, Duno ran a flat running top speed
of 213.460 miles per hour. On Friday, the driver increased her speed to
218.025 miles per hour.
The Miami resident was first in line when qualifying began at noon on
Saturday, May 19 and ran four laps at an increased average speed of 219.228
miles per hour. From that moment, Duno and the SAMAX team would wait almost
30 hours until the conclusion of the infamous Sunday, May 20th Bump Day to
confirm their position in the "Greatest Spectacle of Racing."
"This is the most amazing day of my racing career," said Duno. "I have never
experienced so much pressure over the last week or so much tension than the
last two days."
Peter Baron, SAMAX team owner, said "I'm so proud of Milka for exceeding
everyone's expectations coming into Indianapolis. This has to be the hardest
track for any driver and despite the setback in the first week, she really
proved what a strong character she is to bounce back and qualify. I'm also
really proud of the team for all their hard work this month...we came up
with a plan to build Milka's speed and confidence...we stuck to the plan and
Sponsor CITGO added, "We are so very proud of Milka's determination to make
history as the first Latina driver and third female in the Indianapolis 500
and to not let anything stand in her way," said Felix Rodriquez, president
and CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation. "It's because of her focus on this
level of excellence that she continues to be an amazing role model for
Venezuelans, Americans and young women everywhere who seek to set goals and
make their dreams come true."
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, marketer and transporter of
transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, refined waxes, asphalt and
other industrial products. The company has been a major sponsor of American
racing for 21 years in such series as NASCAR, Grand-Am Racing and now the
IndyCar Series. CITGO is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly
owned subsidiary of Petrleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of
the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information on CITGO visit
For additional information on Milka please visit www.milkaduno.com. For more
information on the IndyCar Series please log on to www.indycar.com.