Milka Debuts, Finishes Race at Kansas Speedway

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Any talk about Milka Duno crumbling under the pressure of her first IndyCar Series race can now be put to rest.

Despite wide-spread doubt over her raw and relatively untested ability, the rookie survived the tilts and turns of Kansas Speedway and finished 14th in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300.

In hindsight, maybe the Indy community should have given the 35-year-old Venezuelan more credit before she fired up her engine at Kansas. She's the proud owner of four, count 'em four degrees. Duno, safe to say, is no stranger to tests.

Pitting early and often, she navigated the course and more importantly avoided the first-race trip-ups that so often derail IndyCar Series newcomers and squash their hopes of finishing a race

Duno's strong finish can be partially chalked up to her above-average understanding of the team concept

"In racing, you have to have such good communication with your engineer," Duno said. "You have to give the right information so he can make the right adjustment."

After advice like that, it doesn't seem like a coincidence that while earning her four degrees she was also trained as a naval engineer. Engineers, even ones specializing in areas as vastly different as boats and cars, must think alike.

Duno's performance was even more impressive considering the circumstances of her switch to the IndyCar Series. Before making the transition, Duno was an extremely talented closed-wheel driver, finding success in such places as the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

Her three wins over a span of two seasons put her on the racing map and introduced the IndyCar Series new media darling to the world.

Now, the Indy community's collective attention shifts to Indianapolis, where Duno will look to build on her debut performance under the pressure-laden scrutiny of the Indy 500.

© 2014 Kansas Speedway

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