Duno Passes Rookie Test
April 27, 2007 | 8:48 A.M. EST
IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch observed the activity on the 1.5-mile oval.
"She understands the car," Blanch said. "She can feel the car with the seat. Her seat tells her what the car is doing. She said that several times today. I asked her several questions and she gave me the answer that I felt other drivers with more experience would have given me. The next step in getting her in the car with traffic and seeing what she can do. In two laps, she’s up to the same speed that she was right before she went into the pits. That’s the main key – to be able to go back out there and run the same speed each time. That’s one of things we look for. Also, her line was more consistent.
"She’s to the point now where she needs to run with other cars and see where she stacks up. We’ll be watching her this weekend, especially in traffic, just as we would with any other driver."
Duno would join Andretti Green Racing’s Danica Patrick and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sarah Fisher in the lineup for the sixth IndyCar Series race at Kansas– a first in major open-wheel history.
"I'm happy. I guess now I am Indy," Duno said. "We had a good test. We didn't have all the track time that we were suppose to leading up to this because of the weather conditions. My team did a great job getting the car prepared. I'm learning so much from all the guys that have experience in Indy car racing, especially my engineer, Steve Challis and my driver coach, Pancho Carter. I was trying to do the best I could and follow the grooves. But this is just the first step. Like everyone else, you start with your first race. Every driver has to get experience, and it starts with the first race. The first practice, the first qualifying, the first race."
SAMAX Motorsport owner Peter Baron announced in March that in addition to Kansas, Duno also would attempt to qualify for the 91st Indianapolis 500 (May 27), and events at Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Iowa Speedway (June 24), Watkins Glen International (July 8), Nashville Superspeedway (July 14), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 22), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 5), Kentucky Speedway (Aug. 11) and the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 9) in the No. 23 CITGO Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Duno had been competing for SAMAX Motorsport in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. The team, which included A.J. Foyt Racing driver Darren Manning, finished second overall in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. Her last race in the CITGO-sponsored Daytona Prototype was March 24 in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway (fourth place with former IndyCar Series driver Patrick Carpentier).
"We're very happy," Baron said. "With all the drama of the rain and cold, it's definitely exciting to be ready and moving forward to Sunday. I feel like we've just passed our college exams. It's nice to get that done and over with. It's exciting but now we are on to the next chapter."