Hey, Milka Duno didn't finish last Sunday! OK, so she finished next-to-last, but baby steps, right?
In qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park for Sunday's IRL race, Duno was more than three seconds slower than the next slowest car in the field of 26. And believe it or not, that was better than her qualifying effort at St. Petersburg, where she was five seconds slower than the rest of the field. (St. Petersburg was where she spun out during the pace laps.)
A Venezuelan, Duno is sponsored by CITGO, which is owned by the Venezuelan government. After racing for Dreyer and Reinbold last year, Duno is now with Dale Coyne Racing, which also fields a car for Alex Lloyd that is sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America.
In no uncertain terms, Duno is a moving chicane, and holds up traffic at some point every race because she's so far off the pace. And if it wasn't for CITGO, she'd probably need press credentials to be on pit row during qualifying. Simply put, her lack of speed is dangerous.
We've debated the merits of starting and parking before, but at least those guys can string together a few laps at a competitive pace. Heck, they have to be competitive just to make the field, whereas in the IRL Duno is guaranteed a starting spot. And very rarely do start and parkers get in the way of the leaders at any point.
What do you think is worse? Would you rather have a full field of Cup cars that ran the whole distance even if a few of them were far off the pace like Duno? Or would you rather keep it the way it is, where the underfunded cars pull off the track after 50 laps?
The IRL needs to do something about Duno before she causes another incident. She got in the way of Graham Rahal at the Indianapolis 500, sending Rahal into the wall, and unless she picks up the pace very soon, she could get — literally — run over at the series' first oval race at Kansas on May 1. Being in the way under 100 mph in the corner on a road or a street course is bad enough. In the way at over 200 mph on an oval is a completely different animal.