Milka Duno Sidelined For Daytona ARCA OpenerBy Chris Knight
Milka Duno, last year’s outside pole sitter at the 2.5-mile superspeedway has been unable to find a supporter that will allow her to compete in the first of 20 races on this year’s ARCA tour.
In an email correspondence to Catchfence.com, a Venturini Motorsports (VMS) representative confirmed that as of February 4, Duno would not compete in the No. 35 Toyota Camry at least for Daytona. The statement also said though that Duno could return to the operation, but it was all sponsorship dependent.
For the past several years, Duno has been sponsored by CANTV, one of the first telephone service enterprises in Venezuela. She’s also had backing from CITGO through its involvement with the government owned Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Despite rumblings that the former IndyCar driver was being forced to sit out due to the ongoing Venezuela corruption scandal investigation, that report has been squashed. If sponsorship is obtained, Duno plans to re-enter the ARCA Racing Series in the foreseeable future.
Sources tell Catchfence.com that the former Rolex Sports Car winner is in talks with a potential marketing partner that would allow Duno to compete in up to seven NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season for an unknown team. Should the partnership fuse together, Duno would become the first Venezuelan female to compete in one of NASCAR’s touring divisions.
When teams unloaded at the “World Center of Racing” for technical inspection this week, the No. 35 had been withdrawn and the points had been transferred to Mark Thompson, one of four drivers in the VMS fleet. Joining Thompson are full-timers John Wes Townley and Justin Boston and female driver Leilani Munter.
Duno, a native of Caracas, Venezuela has four ARCA starts at the 2.5-mile oval. She qualified a track-best second last February. She also led the first 11 laps of the event, before enduring mechanical issues that sent her to the garage for four laps. She recovered to finish 28th, her best finish at the track.
Last year, Duno, a certified Naval Engineer netted a pole at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, and two top-10 finishes en route to a seventh-place finish in the championship standings, the second-highest of any female driver since Shawna Robinson finished sixth in 2000.
Currently, with just two days remaining before the green flag of the 2014 ARCA season, two female drivers are set to compete in the February 15 event. Maryeve Dufault will debut with the new Team Stange Racing, while environmental activist Munter will make her Venturini Motorsports debut in the No. 55 Toyota Camry with support from Lighting Science and ZeroBase.
Follow Chris Knight on Twitter @Knighter01.
Article Tags: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real, Milka Duno, Venturini Motorsports