(KANSAS CITY, Kan. - October 9, 2011) - Milka Duno had never taken stock car laps around an intermediate track prior to the Kansas Lottery 98.9 but the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards rookie looked like a seasoned veteran under the lights at Kansas Speedway.
"Today was my first time driving on a 1.5-mile track in this type of car," said Duno. "It is totally different from a superspeedway or a short track. Today was a good day. We improved a lot throughout the day. In practice we really worked on the car and (crew chief) Dave gave me a good car for qualifying and an even better car for the race. We are always expecting better results, but I am happy with our result for having to overcome the speeding penalty at the end of the race."
The stars of the ARCA Racing Series got an early start Friday morning as their first and only practice session began at 9:00 a.m. Looking to gain some stock car experience at the Speedway, Duno hit the asphalt with only two hours to learn the 1.5-mile track. Ending the final practice session 24th-fastest of the 41 cars to make laps, the team got ready for qualifying later in the afternoon. Picking up almost a full second from her practice time, Duno qualified 24th for the start of the Kansas Lottery 98.9
As the green flag dropped, Duno was very patient for the first quarter of the race, remaining in the top-25 and taking care of her CITGO SUPERGARD Toyota. On lap 12 she went one lap down to the leaders, but a caution on lap 23 allowed her to bring her No. 63 to the attention of her Sheltra Motorsports crew for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
Duno returned to the track in 24th and when she took the green flag on lap 28, Duno began clicking off very fast lap times. Quickly moving into the 22nd position, Duno put herself in "lucky dog" position as the first car one lap down to the leaders when the second caution of the night came out on lap 36, putting her back on the lead lap.
The field restarted on lap 39 and with continued improvement, Duno raced her way to the 18th position by the halfway point of the race. Another caution on lap 51 brought the No. 63 back down pit road for four tires, another track bar adjustment and fuel and with a quick stop, the Sheltra Motorsports team put Duno back out on the track in 17th for the lap 56 restart.
Often running lap times as quick as the top-10, track position was hard to come by and Duno had advanced as high as 14th during the second half of the race and was consistently running in the 16th and 17th positions until the final caution of the night came out on lap 88. Crew Chief Dave Leiner Jr. called Duno down pit road for four tires and a slight adjustment, but while battling for position off pit road Duno and several other drivers got caught speeding while exiting the pits.
As the green came out for the final time on lap 94 Duno was forced to serve the penalty, having to make a pass through the pits, relinquishing her track position. Duno returned to the track for the final few laps of the race, taking the checkered flag in the 19th position.
"I couldn't be more proud of Milka and the entire Sheltra Motorsports team tonight," said Leiner. "Milka continued to improve her lap times all day long. She ran her fastest laps of the weekend in the middle of the race, often running lap times as fast as some of the top cars. Milka really proved what an incredible amount of talent she has today. I am really looking forward to getting back to the track and putting on a good show at Toledo."
The Sheltra Motorsports team rolls into the final event on the ARCA Racing Series schedule next weekend at Toledo Speedway for the Toledo ARCA 200 presented by Federated Car Care. Cars will hit the half-mile oval on Saturday, October 15th for practice and qualifying. The green flag will drop for 200 laps of short track action on Sunday, October 16th at 2:00 p.m. EST with live television coverage on SPEED.