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Memo: Milkamania On Its Way?

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 16 2009
Milka Duno is following Danica Patrick to stock cars. Could she lead Danica to the podium?. (Photo courtesy of the IndyCar Series)

Milka Duno is following Danica Patrick to stock cars. Could she lead Danica to the podium?. (Photo courtesy of the IndyCar Series)

Let’s see what’s in today’s Morning Memo:

Is it possible that Danica Patrick could be just the second-highest-finishing female driver in the 2011 Daytona 500? Yes, I do believe it is. Not probable, but definitely possible.

Word came out last week that Milka Duno has signed to drive an ARCA car for established Nationwide Series team-owner, Todd Braun, this coming season.

From there, who knows how the stock-car future of the 37-year-old Venezuelian will go. Or where it will go.

Duno is a veteran of the IndyCar Series. Just like Danica.

Duno is scheduled to make her ARCA debut at Daytona during Speed Weeks next February. Just like Danica.

Some will say that is where the similarities between Patrick and Duno end.

Some say that Patrick is clearly the better driver, the more experienced driver, the more worthy driver. And they will say that Duno is just cashing in – shirt-tailing as it were – on the Danicamania which has descended like lake-effect snow upon the stock-car racing world.

And it could be that Duno will just squeeze her 15 minutes – or 15 laps (which ever comes first) – out of the ARCA thing and then move back to IndyCars or to the NHRA or where ever.

But then again, who knows. Auto racing is an odd thing. It can be tough to look inside a driver and tell what’s in there. Can’t-miss prospects do miss and no-way prospects find ways. Some just adapt better to specific situations in racing than do others.

Here I cite the the Juan Pablo Montoya vs. virtually every other open-wheel crossover since Tony Stewart example.

Some figure Duno’s stock-car foray will be as short and as uninteresting as was that of former world driving champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Most figure she is just fishing for attention.

At best, many think, she will start and park. And at worst, well, many think she will not be able to keep the car on the track at Daytona long enough to park it.

But Duno is not without portfolio. She has won championships (the Panoz GT Series), she’s won races (in the Grand-Am Rolex series), and she competed with the best of the big boys (she was second in the Daytona 24 in 2007).

Duno has 27 starts in the IndyCar Series.

Do I think it’s probable that she will make it big in stock cars? Absolutely not.

Do I think she could beat Danica if they both opt to drive in the Daytona 500 in 2011? Absolutely. She’s done it before. Most recently in the season-finale of the 2009 IndyCar series at Homestead-Miami Speedway when Duno finished 17th and Patrick 19th.

In between them that day was Sarah Fisher. Don’t get me started on that one – until next week at the earliest.

Memo to self: Check to see if all NASCAR tracks have both his and hers showering facilities.

Bring ‘em on

Could the blue oval, the bow tie and whatever it is that that Toyota logo looks like soon be challenged by the three-pointed star, the whirling propeller, the prancing horse?

Depends how you define soon, but it is looking more and more that more foreign-based auto makers will be welcomed into NASCAR.

NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France has said more foreign participation has been explored and will be welcome.

The boss of at least one current manufacturer in the series say he would have no problem with Mercedes or BMW or even Ferrari coming over.

Brian Wolfe of Ford told RacinToday last season, “As more competition comes in, as more people get interested, that’s good.”

Asked if he thought that a foreign invasion would drive fans away, Wolfe said no.

“I don’t think it would drive anybody away,” he said. “When Toyota came in, they said it would be like that” and it hasn’t happened.

Memo to self: Call boss France and make sure rules are in place to keep the drivers and team members from wearing those goofy straight-brimmed caps.

And finally…

…I hope you had a relaxing off season, Mike Davis. Because as public relations man for both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick in 2010, you won’t be doing much relaxing from here on out.

…Steve Addington will not need to entirely rework his business cards for next season. Addington, who was crew chief for Kyle Busch last year will be crew chief for Kurt Busch next year. A little dab of White Out over three letters of the first name and presto!

…The Camping World Truck Series’ gain looks to be America’s loss. Some of us were really hoping that Kyle Busch would take a swing at Formula One as driver of the USF1 entry in the near future.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 16 2009
12 Comments

12 Comments »

  • Marc says:

    Gary says….“while Danica has been driving for the equivalent of Hendrick Motor sports. The equipment just isn’t on the same level.”

    Huh, Danica is driving what compares to a Hendricks owned car?

    Then perchance can you explain why Danica and her much more experienced teammates, one that is a past IRL champ, that drive the same equipment can’t come within a country mile of ether Penske or Ganassi?

    Sorry, until now
    Andritti has been fielding what is generally regarded as… crapwagons.

    • Gary says:

      Mark,
      I didn’t equate their equipment to “Petty Racing” I equated them to Yates. ;)

      The reality is, if you aren’t in an IRL car built by one of the big three … you have to hope THEY have bad luck just to keep you from being a “field filler”.

    • Tony Osborne says:

      Yeah Andretti have been poor in ‘08.
      Danica finishing 5th was really all anyone could do in that car.
      As for the ARCA timings I see it was a lot closer than I thought but Danica’s Sunday runs at 5th fastest were really good.
      Looks like Milka may be better off in tin tops after all but as time goes by I feel that Danica will get faster with more experience.

      Ok Danica’s my favourite but good luck to them both and all the other girls on track.

  • Marybeth says:

    Gary,
    That is what I have been saying, and getting slammed for saying, so I took a different approach. Marybeth

    “Gary says:
    December 17, 2009 at 12:32 am
    No one ever points out the major desparity in equipment that exists in the IRL.
    We’ve never really had a good comparison of Milka’s skills in the IRL because her Indy team is basically the equivalent of Yates Racing while Danica has been driving for the equivalent of Hendrick Motor sports. The equipment just isn’t on the same level.”

  • dick says:

    Well, it’s becoming pretty clear that Raybestos is going to have to come up with a “Bimbo of the Year” award!

  • Gary says:

    No one ever points out the major desparity in equipment that exists in the IRL.
    We’ve never really had a good comparison of Milka’s skills in the IRL because her Indy team is basically the equivalent of Yates Racing while Danica has been driving for the equivalent of Hendrick Motor sports. The equipment just isn’t on the same level.

    With this weekend’s ARCA testing though, it should be Milka who is in the best equipment. This may finally be a chance to compare the two drivers on an equal footing.
    At the least, this could be quite interesting.

    • Gary says:

      So after the first day, maybe we are seeing what I was talking about. Maybe.

      After the morning session, Danica finished just one place in front of Milka … and by like only .02 seconds.

      In the afternoon session, Milka improved her times and finished 6 places in front of Danica with a fast lap nearly a half second better than Danica’s best.

      Now granted, there was a lot of things being “tested” by the teams so I wouldn’t put too much into all of this. I do think that the one thing this showed is that given similar equipment, Milka can run as fast as Danica. I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow’s sessions will show us.

  • Marybeth says:

    Perhaps, Milka feels more comfortable in a car with a top and the Nascar stock cars are noted for being safe. This may be her niche. Marybeth

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  • Tony Osborne says:

    Not a chance of Milka beating Danica.
    She’s about 10 mph slower in cars that have more grip, more downforce, much less weight and that are supposed to be easier to drive.
    Danica also has very good upper body strength and is a natural on the ovals.
    Also at homestead, the only reason she finished ahead of Danica was because the latter suffered suspension damage that was caused by Wheldons car hitting hers in the pits, which I hasten to add, was due to Wheldon’s pit crew letting him go when Danica had the right of way.
    It was not his fault and certainly not her fault and at the time she was way ahead of Milka and I’m talking of laps, not places.

    If she does it will only be as a result of a wreck and, looking at last season, Danica rarely has wrecks that are of her own doing.