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DATE News (chronologically)
04/27/07
irl
Carpentier thinks Duno not good enough
[Editor's Note: Milka Duno tested a Champ Car at Sebring for Dale Coyne Racing. She was so slow she was never invited back. However, since 100% throttle racing requires such little talent she could become the IRL's next female superstar.]

Patrick Carpentier was compelled to have the conversation with Milka Duno. Secrets don't stay secret in a racing paddock, and his Samax Motorsport teammate wasn't denying it, anyway.

Duno, 35, a successful Grand Am sports car racer, was going to attempt the treacherous leap to the more dangerous and demanding Indy Racing League.

Carpentier wondered aloud if the step was too much, particularly for someone whose experience has been road courses, not the G-force generating ovals that comprise most of the IRL schedule.

"I told her, 'I think it's a huge step,' " he said. "I think it's almost too big of a step. Those cars are fast. It's no playtime anymore. It's very serious and a small mistake can become catastrophic very, very quickly."

Driver concerns over her readiness to debut Sunday at Kansas Speedway and drive in nine ensuing races including the Indianapolis 500 have nothing to do with her gender, Carpentier said. Duno passed her IRL rookie test Thursday.

But 15 months after rookie Paul Dana died in a prerace warm-up at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the debate remains whether open-wheel racing's two circuits (IRL and Champ Car) allow drivers with too little experience into the big leagues if they bring sponsor money. Dana, a Northwestern-educated journalist who had won at the IRL's development level, brought the ethanol industry.

Duno had just some ladder series time in open-wheel cars before this week. A Venezuelan with four master's degrees, she brings CITGO and potentially the marketing appeal of Danica Patrick.

"The owners have to pay for the cars most of the time and no one has money, and that's when you have a lot of guys coming in with money that never really raced or shouldn't be there," Carpentier said, though not referring to Duno. SPTimes.com

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