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Duno completes rookie test in time for Kansas debut

4/26/2007

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Driving an open-wheel Indy car for only
the second time, Milka Duno earned her IndyCar series rookie
license Thursday -- three days before she will make her series debut
at Kansas Speedway.

The 34-year-old Venezuelan, who is moving to Indy cars from
sports car racing, becomes the third woman in the IndyCar series
behind Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick.

All three are in the field for Sunday's Kansas Lottery Indy 300,
marking the first time three women are expected to compete in one
race in a top-level circuit.

"Out there, we're all drivers," she said.

Duno had hoped to arrive in the Kansas City area on Tuesday and
take her rookie test Wednesday, but was prevented from doing either
by heavy rain.

On Tuesday, her flight from Miami was grounded in Louisiana for
nine hours.

"If I flew to Australia, it would take me less time than it
took for me to get from Miami to Kansas," she said.

Windy and unseasonably cool conditions Thursday morning kept her
from taking the track until after 11:30 a.m., when the temperature
rose past 50 degrees. She finished testing shortly before 5 p.m.,
after completing 210 laps on the 1.5-mile tri-oval, and learned she
had passed several minutes later.

"It's almost like passing a college exam," Samax Motorsports
owner Peter Barron said. "It's good to get this step out of the
way."

There was not supposed to be any testing at Kansas Speedway on
Thursday, but the Indy Racing League and track officials granted
Duno an extension. Even though IndyCar qualifying is not until
Saturday, track time is booked solid on Friday for NASCAR Craftsman
Truck Series practice and an ARCA race.

"I'm super happy that the league, and Honda, and all the folks
at Kansas Speedway worked with us to make this happen," Barron
said. "There's always a certain amount of drama, but we're very
happy we got this sorted."

Weather also wiped out most of Duno's other planned tests,
allowing her only one 140-lap outing at Kansas Speedway two weeks
ago.

"I was not thinking too much about that," she said. "When I
have to do something, I take the opportunity as, 'This is the only
practice I have, the only time I have.'

"The plan was that I would have four days to one week of
practice, but because of the weather conditions we couldn't. I just
said, 'OK, we will do what we can.'"

Duno plans to compete in 10 of the series' 17 races this year,
concentrating on ovals -- with the exception of the Indianapolis
500, which she plans to enter next month. She is expected to run a
full schedule in 2008.

Despite her limited experience, Duno said she would do more than
just try to finish Sunday's race.

"I'm going to do my best," Duno said. "I'm very competitive.
But at the same time, I'm going to try to learn everything, how to
drive with all the guys together."