When Venezuelan driver Milka Duno hops into her racecar at Iowa Speedway on Saturday afternoon, she will be in unfamiliar territory.
It’s not that she is unfamiliar with the ARCA Series, as she is in her third year on the circuit, or that she hasn’t raced over the track, because she had. But historically, Duno is treading new water.
Duno currently sits in a tie for sixth with Mason Mitchell in the ARCA points standings. A fifth place finish would mark the highest finish by a female driver in the history of the circuit, surpassing Shawna Robertson’s sixth place finish 13 years ago.
“With everything that I’m doing this season, I have just learned to embrace it,” Duno said. “I have been working so hard with my team in racing, and every aspect of my life to have the best season I can in ARCA. During everything I have ever done, I have been doing this for some time. Every circuit, every championship, I need to have the best attitude I can, to do the best that I can.”
In her 17 races, Duno has two top-10 finishes and 11 finishes in the top-15 spots. She credits plenty of hard work and the right mix of people for her success this season.
“I always say that I invest my time. I don’t want to waste my time. If I do something, I spend a lot of time on it because I want to do it well,” she said. “I want good things in every aspect of my life. This is the first time I have done a full championship in ARCA. We have a good team. When you have the combination of continuity and making all the races, I get the chance to prove what I can do when I have the right tools. I have a good car, good team and good people around. It’s no mystery”
Although she is having a terrific year by most drivers’ standards, Duno has a rough history over the track. Iowa Speedway has been unkind to her over the last couple of years, but despite her struggles, she still shares the affinity for Iowa’s short track that a majority of drivers express. She simply points to a couple incidents of bad luck when looking back at her two races in Iowa for the circuit.
“Iowa is a place that I like a lot, but for some reason I haven’t had the results I’ve been looking for,” Duno said. “For some reason, something always happens — somebody hits me or I have problems with the brakes or some problem with the car — but it’s a track I like. I really want to have a good result here. It’s a fast track, and you need control with the bumps. You want to be fast, but you have to be so careful.”
Duno will have to wait until Saturday night to find out if her more cautious approach to the 2013 ARCA Prairie Meadows 150 will prove to be a difference maker for her at Iowa Speedway. She sounded confident that she knows what mistakes she has made in the past, but correcting them will be a different story.
One area where Duno is being far from cautious is in her charitable work. Duno establishes the “Milka Way” foundation in 2004. Duno’s goal is to inspire excellence in education, which she feels is a vital part to life all around the world. Duno’s charity reflects a good deal of her life, and her four master’s degrees are proof of her dedication.
“I have been to more than 100 schools all over the world,” Duno said. “I talk to the students about the value of education, about how important it is to be educated. I think theyre motivated. I think they understand once I’m done speaking, the value of education. You need to work hard in every thing you do. I’m a very competitive person and that inspires my hard work, and it should inspire hard work in young people with their school. ”
Duno will try to teach the other ARCA drivers a thing or two on Saturday night. Her 3,335 points currently place her in a tie for sixth. Frank Kimmel is running away with the points race with his 4,410 points and 17 top-10 finishes. Mason Mingus sits in second with 4,105 points. Justin Boston is third with 3,940. Tom Hessert sits right behind with 3,840, and Josh Williams’ 3,620 points round out the top five.
Qualifying for the Prairie Meadows 150 will begin at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, with the race starting at 8 p.m.